Please read as follows, from the Daily Mail, a right wing paper.(31 Posts)
?Nine pensioners died from cold EVERY HOUR last winter as bill prices soar?
By Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor
Nine elderly people died every hour from cold-related illnesses last winter against a background of soaring energy bills.
Official figures show the number of deaths linked to cold over the four-month period reached
25,400 in England and Wales, plus 2,760 in Scotland.
Charities and energy company critics claim the UK has the highest winter death rate in northern Europe, even worse than much colder countries such as Finland and Sweden.
Winter worries: More than 300,000 UK pensioners have died of cold related illnesses since 1997
There are fears the toll could rise this year following a recent barrage of price rises that may frighten elderly people into not turning on their heating.
Heated issue: Pensioners see rising fuel bills and worry about whether they can afford to warm the house
While the UK death rate is high, the total was down by around 30 per cent compared with 2008/9 because there were fewer flu outbreaks, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners Convention, said: ?Since 1997 we have lost more than 300,000 pensioners during the winter months because of cold-related illnesses, yet the Government seems incapable of acting.
No other section of our society is so vulnerable and treated so badly.
?Pensioners see rising fuel bills and are constantly worried about whether or not they can afford to put their heating on.?
She added: ?Around 3.5million pensioner households are spending more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel bills and are living in fuel poverty.?
The Coalition government has kept the last administration?s Winter Fuel Allowance payments of £250 for pensioners and £400 for those over 80.
But the allowance should be raised, said Miss Gibson, adding: ?What these people need now is more money so they can avoid having to decide whether to heat or eat.?
DEADLY COLD SNAP
The death of 90-year-old Margaret Titchmarsh showed how cold weather can claim the lives of elderly people.
Former nurse Mrs Titchmarsh, who suffered from dementia, died from hypothermia after wandering away from her care home, in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
At the inquest into her death, Halifax coroner Roger Whittaker concluded her death was accidental but 'contributed to by neglect'.
She was wearing only a thin summer dress, cardigan and slippers when she was found dead - on one of the coldest nights of the year in January 2007
Maria Wardrobe, of the charity National Energy Action, said: ?Britain still has the highest number of excess winter deaths in northern Europe which is a national disgrace, and more needs to be done to tackle the problem of fuel poverty.
?Those most at risk to the effects of cold weather must not have to make a choice over whether to heat their homes or end up ill and in debt to their energy supplier.?
Dave Timms, from Friends of the Earth, said: ?Living in a cold, damp house can make heart disease and strokes more likely. It?s a disgrace that millions of vulnerable people in Britain live in homes lacking basic insulation.?
He said the Government?s Energy Bill, which is to be published next month, should include a programme to insulate all the nation?s homes.
ENERGY BILL RISES
Energy providers have announced big rises in prices this winter.
? Scottish Power is increasing electricity bills by 8.9 per cent.
? Scottish & Southern Electricity is putting up gas by almost 10 per cent.
? British Gas announced a 7 per cent rise on gas and electricity
Michelle Mitchell, director of the charity Age UK, said:'It?s still unacceptable that in this day and age tens of thousands more older people die in this country every winter from the effects of the cold weather.
'As another winter sets in, plummeting temperatures will once again spell misery, ill-health and, in some cases, even death for too many people in later life across the country.
'The simple fact that the UK has one of the highest winter mortality rates in Europe ? higher than even Sweden or Finland ? makes it clear this is very much a home-grown problem.
'These are avoidable deaths due not just to the cold weather in itself but to the country?s inability to meet the challenge of dropping temperatures.'
Public health minister Anne Milton said: ?Information to help vulnerable people keep warm and well will be made available to GP surgeries and local organisations.
'The elderly, and those who are ill, are particularly vulnerable during cold weather.
'We all have a role to play in remembering the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk especially at this time of year.? Unquote.
The coalition are blaming the Deficit left by the last Government. As far as pensioners are concerned, Steve Webb?s response was what I expected, the man has no integrity whatsoever, and I would say this to his face if I could.
Following the second World War Britain was made bankrupt, yet with America we helped build up Germany, we brought in the National Health Service, we brought in minimum wages, we built council houses, we brought in a Welfare State.
We achieved much, because Government?s of the day had the ?will? to do it.
Steve Webb?s response was based on a devisery policy regarding the elderly, and the myth that looking after our elderly people is expensive, in short our pensioners are a scapegoat for right wing ideoligy.
Factually, and in direct response to Steve Webb?s comments about the £150 State pension if it is introduced in the future, clearly this possible future State pension amount will not be paid to today?s pensioners, and it should be, again today?s pensioners are being ignored.
Means testing today?s pensioners via the Pensions Credit, is costing 15 times more of tax payers money than the restoration of the earnings link with cost ?. ie it costs £15 per person, per pensioner to means test, on a par with £5 per person per pensioner to restore the State pensions and earnings link.
We send tax payers money round the world in the name of ?Great Britain?, including £50 million a day to Europe, and we uphold foreign wars with never a question about expense, but when it comes to the elderly, and their dignity in old age, suddenly we cant afford it.
This right wing retorich began with Margaret Thatcher, and then was adopted by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and now this right wing lead coalition, so for 30 years our elderly people have and are being ignored.
Did either of you even bother to read my posting in full ?
Typical British attitude, fixed mindest, learn nothing, head in the sand.
Rich or poor - they get help with heating bills. A millionaire pensioner will get their allowance all winter plus an extra lump sum if the temperature falls below a certain point.
Poor families with newborn babies / children with asthma or even children without asthma for that matter get nothing to help with these costs at all and are in as much need.
Pensions may not be in line with inflation and the true cost of food and utilities but salaries sure as hell aren't either. Most people haven't had a salary increase in years and years yet the bills go up at a staggering rate and are always worse with 4 to heat and feed.
I'm not saying you are wrong about the plight of old and poor people but I think you are overlooking the equally bleak picture for families on low incomes especially in relation to utility prices.
Im saying that the oldest pensioners fought for our freedom to ignore them.
Im saying that my posting has nothing to do with the younger working element in this country.
Im saying that what is happening to pensioners today, will happen to pensioners tommorrow.
Im also saying that I bet you never read my posting in full, either.
Another fixed British mindset unwilling to learn anything, head in the sand.
Isn't the point that even though there is 'help' available many old people fail to access it because they are too proud or too confused to fill in the forms etc. They are very vulnerable and therefore imho in the greatest need. I think it's right to highlight these issues.
I did read your post in full.
I agree with a lot of what you say - undoubtedly old people are dying every year because of fuel prices. The government attempts to address this with pretty hefty amounts of money paid to pensioners to help towards heating costs. The very ill or infirm or very poor may or may not benefit from this as intended but its still bloody stupid to pay it to all pensioners when so many of them are amongst the better off in society right now.
You cannot ignore the plight of the younger population who are in an equally awful position. They too are suffering. And their income is what pays for pensions. If you seriously think the NI contributions of the elderly were all put in a big pot and left untouched for them to draw on then you are seriously misguided. If the young working population is poor then not only is their suffering equally bad but their poverty affects the money available to pay pensions to the elderly
And yes I agree it will be the same for the pensioners of tomorrow. Actually it will probably be much worse as most of the working poor and many working middle income people cannot afford private pensions any more. Public sector pensions will be eroded and most people will work well into old age and then be totally reliant on selling assets and state support.
So what do we do then CustardCake? Ignore te plight of the elderly because young people are suffering too?
The majority of pensioners in my village (including my fil) are fairly wealthy. The ones I know all claim the money. IMO the fuel allowance should be higher and only go to those who need it, young or old.
But I've said that before, and apparently the cost of means testing this would cost more than just giving all pensioners the same amount.
Would it really cost £250 per pensioner to see if they were poor or not? (genuine question btw, because I don't know)
I suppose in an ideal world it should only be claimed by those who genuinely need it, but then you get people like my fil who would still claim it as they are entitled to it
Yup, means testing is very expensive, the admin costs outweigh the theoretical saving made by not paying the benefit to the well-off. But pensioners who don't need the money can either not claim it or can give the money straight to charity.
My great aunt died of hyperthermia last winter. She was 97.
She had plenty of money, but she lived on her own, 40 miles away from us (her only relatives). We (me and my mum) made sure she was phoned every day and visited at least once a week (but usually twice).
We knew she was not eating properly (she had medical problems that affected her ability to swallow and digest, but refused to tell the doctor or accept medication). She had a plethora of heaters, hot water bottles, etc, which she told us she used.
When she died, we found her on the floor of her living room in sub-zero temps. She must have died between tea-time one day and about 10 the next morning (as we'd spoken to her at tea time, and she had not answered the phone in the morning). The house was freezing cold and there was no heating on.
The strange thing is, she was naked when she was found. The doctor who attended said that was how he knew she had hyperthermia-sufferers are often found undressed or in very thin garments as they believe that they are too hot (which could explain why the lady from Halifax in the OP was found in a state of undress/insufficient clothes).
I don't know why I was moved to post this except that the OP is a subject close to my heart.
My Great Aunt was loved, and cared for to the best of our ability. She didn't want any more 'interference'. She had plenty of money, and chose not to use it to make herself comfortable. As far as I know, the Winter Fuel Allowance is added onto pensions automatically, it is not 'claimed' (although I could be wrong), but people can spend it (or not) on whatever they like. My GA, and I suspect many others like her, prefer not to spend it, and many pay the price.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given more money, I suppose what I'm saying is that, since we do live in a cold, damp climate with generally hard-to-heat homes, it is probably not surprising that many of our elderly die because of it.
I have never read so much short sighted, naive, bilge about the elderly and their State pension.
CustardCake, you are right in many things you say.
The old age pension is disgreacelly low, and means testing is simply not the way forward.
I have to say that the majority of posters on here are dimwit thick heads, and im being polite.
blinkinheck, We all as a nation fight for the rights of the elderly in this country, and forget about the greedy self centred wants of the middle classes, all of whom have been reared under the greed of Thatcher.
How very odd! I could have sworn Pan and many many others had replied on this thread earlier.
What Has Happened?
I think the winter fuel allowance should be given either straight to the energy companies, or as some form of voucher. My mum is manager of the local post office, where most of the old people claim their pensions etc as there are no nearby banks and when the fuel allowance payments are made many of them ask for their christmas money. My mum corrects them, but they don't spend it on heating but christmas presents and things like that. The pensions are piteful, but where I live many of the OAP's are reasonably well off and yet don't budget for christmas and rely on the fuel allowance to pay for it.
The State pension should be at least £300 a week.
Another Ivanhoe rant.
If you dont like this country, why dont you get out!
Try Europe where State pensions are much higher.
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