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Elderly ‘could freeze to death as bills rocket’, warns Age UK

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The UK’s biggest pensioner charity Age UK described their plight as a “national disgrace”. And former Pensions Minister Ros Altmann issued a stark warning that urgent Government action is needed to safeguard older people’s health.

Rising inflation and escalating prices are threatening the standard of living of older people on low incomes. The wholesale cost of gas rose six times last year, hitting a record high before Christmas.

Baroness Altmann said: “The problem for pensioners is that not being able to keep warm costs lives. We’re not just talking about being a bit strapped for cash, we’re talking about health deterioration or death.”

Age UK research shows that every winter one elderly person dies every seven minutes from the cold in England and Wales. There is growing concern that some may begin to turn off their heating even before the worst of the cold weather hits.The charity wants to see a package of measures including a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund that councils distribute to tackle fuel poverty.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, is writing to ministers this week to press the need for urgent action.

She said: “I’ve not seen a threat like this to older people’s standards of living, this is unprecedented.”

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