Up to 750,000 elderly people 'forced to choose between food and heating their homes' this winter

A third of pensioner households live on less than £300 a week

Kashmira Gander
Friday 04 December 2015 19:22 GMT
The number of people in fuel poverty has increased by 9 per cent since the Conservatives took power
The number of people in fuel poverty has increased by 9 per cent since the Conservatives took power

Around 750,000 elderly people are being forced to choose between feeding themselves and heating their homes, a charity has warned.

New figures reveal what older people must deal with due to the high cost of living, as a third of pensioner households have less than £300 a week to live on.

A survey of 1,000 people aged 65 or over by the Independent Age charity has revealed that 36 per cent said they do not heat their homes adequately during the colder months because they fear they will not be able to pay their fuel bills.

A further 43 per cent have gone to bed early to stay warm at least once, with an estimated 890,000 doing so often or every day.

Fears linked to the cost of heating also mean 6 per cent, or 637,000 people, do not eat a hot meal every day in winter, while a further 6 per cent heat only one room in their home.

Others have opted to leave their home to stay warm and avoid costs, with one in seven visiting the library, shopping centre or using public transport.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age said: "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.

"These include wearing several thin layers of clothing, having more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and drawing the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in."

Some 1.6million people live in poverty, according to the charity, with 900,000 of those living in severe poverty.

The study comes after it was revealed that the 2.3million poorest and coldest households in England are receiving improved insulation at a rate of 1 per cent a year – meaning they won’t all be properly protected for almost a century.

Additional reporting by PA

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