Almost half of over-60s are worried about heating their home this winter because of the soaring cost of energy, a charity has found.
Age UK has called for urgent Government action to help older people stay warm after a survey found 45% – or around seven million people – were worried about staying warm over the winter months.
It wants the Government to provide an “expedited” extra one-off payment of £50 for those already eligible for the Cold Weather Payment to help with bills, and for the existing Household Support Fund to be doubled to provide £1 billion to help vulnerable households heat their homes.
The charity’s poll earlier this month found that 33% of over-60s are worried about paying their energy bills this winter and 32% are worried about having to reduce energy use due to financial concerns.
Its new report, the Cost of Cold, also urges the Government to ensure the energy price cap is enshrined in law and re-introduce a social tariff into the energy market to offer protection against high energy costs.
Age UK warned that cold temperatures could be particularly dangerous for older people, especially those with respiratory diseases, arthritis, or heart problems.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “As temperatures plummet this winter, millions of vulnerable older people are feeling trapped at home, too scared to go out for fear of catching Covid, and too scared to turn the heating on for fear of racking up a bill they can’t afford.
“We cannot let a situation continue where people are so worried about rising bills that they either put their health at risk by not keeping their homes warm enough or feel forced to cut back on meals to make ends meet. No one should have to make the impossible choice between eating and putting their heating on.
“If the Government does not provide urgent financial support to change this – at a time when new restrictions encouraging us to stay at home seem a distinct possibility – it could mean a tragedy for many older people. The cost of cold has never been higher.”