Heating versus Eating: 750,000 pensioners must choose this winter
While the better off are making Christmas gift decisions, 752,000 elderly people in Britain have to choose between eating or staying warm in the 2015 winter season, the Independent Age charity found.
The report also found that 43 percent of elderly people had gone to bed early to keep warm at least once, with an estimated 890,000 of them doing this often or even every day.
There are 11.4 million people aged 65 and over in the UK, according to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). Independent Age said that 36 percent of them do not heat their homes adequately in winter because of worries about paying fuel bills, while 13 percent have resorted to going to a library, a shopping center or using public transport just to stay warm in winter.
“It is saddening that so many pensioners are faced with the choice of heating or eating during the coldest months of the year. While much more needs to be done to ensure that older people get the support they need in winter, there are also many practical actions that can be taken,” said Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age.
She advised the elderly to wear several thin layers of clothing, have more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and draw the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in.
Last year 45,000 excess deaths during winter season were recorded in England and Wales, the highest since 1999, according to a report by the ONS. The deaths were blamed on “ineffective flu vaccines” and “fuel poverty.”
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said this week that the UK has one of the least generous pensions from its members, ranking it 32nd out of 34 countries, with only Chile and Mexico behind.
A new state pension comes into effect on April 6 but Independent Age doesn’t hold much hope that it will improve the situation.
“The new state pension that comes in next April will make future pensioners work longer, pay more and get less,” Janet Morrison told the Morning Star.