Energy price rises leaving older people in crisis

Ekklesia reports AGE UK IS DEMANDING immediate government action to prevent millions more people falling into fuel poverty.

With experts predicting that energy bills could rise by up to 50 per cent this spring, adding around £600 to the average annual bill, Age UK is warning that this unprecedented increase could trigger a national emergency for millions of older people.

The Charity has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng and the Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, calling for immediate action to protect vulnerable older people from the cold this winter. This is the second letter from the Charity in as many months urging ministers to take decisive action on energy bills to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of the escalating crisis, which it says will be nothing short of catastrophic for many older people without intervention. In addition, the letter underscores the need for longer-term thinking about how older people with the least ability to pay can be protected from energy price rises in the future.

The latest government figures show that around 930,000 pensioners (eight per cent) say they could not afford an unexpected bill of £200. And given that older people are typically at home more than younger age groups and feel the cold to a much greater extent, the prediction of a bill increase of around £600 is likely to be a significant underestimation for many.

In recent months, the Charity has heard from thousands of older people who are already rationing their energy use as well as other essentials, including food. For example, older people who are too worried to use their oven and are living on soup and sandwiches instead; showering only every two days rather than daily; and constantly watching their smart meter and turning their heating off once their daily spending exceeds the limit they have set.

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