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Elderly sacrifice health to pay for energy bills

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
16/01/2017
Nearly one in ten elderly people - the equivalent of 1 million Brits - expect to suffer from health problems this winter due to the high cost of energy, according to research. 

In a survey of 2,000 people over the age of 65 by comparison site comparethemarket.com, 90% of respondents said the cost of energy presented a real health threat to elderly people living in the UK.

Nearly a third (32%) will be forced to ration energy use this winter and only 36% of OAPs surveyed said they could “definitely afford” an increase in energy bills.

Some 43% said they would have to dip into their savings, while 38% said they would need to cut down on other expenditures, such as food shopping and luxuries to cover the increasing cost of energy.

Comparethemarket.com also found that more than half of the people surveyed do not trust energy companies to do the right thing and keep energy prices down while 60% don’t trust energy companies to pass on any reductions.

Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com, said it is worrying that a million elderly people in the UK have to sacrifice their health just to pay for their energy bills.

“Cold weather and the resulting health problems are a real issue for the elderly who fall victim to the cold temperatures every year. Given the vulnerability of the elderly, it should be an absolute priority to ensure that they are able to afford their energy costs and appropriately heat their home.”

He said the problems facing the older generation further highlights the importance of the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment, particularly as two thirds (66%) of respondents said the benefit helps pay for their energy bills, while 13% said they could not pay the bills without it.

“While the Winter Fuel Allowance clearly goes some way to solve the problem, the fact that the number of people struggling to afford their energy bills is so high shows that more action has to be taken to ensure OAPs are on the best energy deal possible.”

The comparison site’s latest energy insight found those aged 65+ saved an average of £212 on their energy bills in December by switching provider.

“This saving, combined with the Energy Fuel Allowance, is one step towards giving elderly people in the UK enough support to heat their home, rather than risking their own health to save money,” he added.

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