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Author: Age Sector Platform
Published on 21 June 2011 10:00 AM

Age Sector Platform has chosen today’s summer solstice as the unusual time to launch their winter themed campaign entitled ‘Fight the Winter Fuel Cut’.

The organisation, who recently organised the Pensioners Parliament in Belfast, claims that as we enjoy the longest day of the year older people are already worried about the long winter days that await them.
 
The campaign, which is in opposition to the cut in the Winter Fuel Payment this year by the Coalition Government, will allow older people from across the province to show their support by signing a petition which will then be presented to Government.  The petition can be signed online at www.fightfuelcut.org or by phoning 028 9031 2089 to request a postcard.
 
This year, the UK Government decided to cut the Winter Fuel Payment by £50 for people aged 60 to 80, and by £100 for those aged over 80; despite spiralling fuel prices and last December being the coldest in Northern Ireland for over 100 years.
 
Bill Carson, Chair of Age Sector Platform, commented: “This decision by the UK Government is scandalous, considering the number of older people who die every winter due to cold related illnesses.  Government needs to do more to tackle the issue of fuel poverty, not less!  We, as older people, must send a clear message that the decision to reduce the help to older people in heating their homes is wrong and dangerous.  We need older people in Northern Ireland to make their voice heard on this critical matter and we ask them to support the campaign by signing our petition.”
 
Mr Carson continued: “Although we are currently at the height of summer, it will be no time before we are again approaching the winter months, and the associated worries that they bring for many older people struggling to make ends meet.  We realise that Government budgets are tight, and some difficult decisions need to be made at present, but surely maintaining the health and well-being of our older population during winter must be of paramount importance?”
 
At the recently held Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament the most popular motion relating to energy prices was in fact about the winter fuel cut, with almost all (97%) of those in attendance in support of the motion “to call on the UK Government to reverse its decision to cut the Winter Fuel Payment this year and to look at ways of linking future payments to energy prices”.  The survey conducted in the lead up to the Pensioners Parliament also emphasised the need for action in this area with three out of four older people choosing ‘keeping warm in winter’ as a worry for them – making it the number one issue of concern.
 
Age Sector Platform is encouraging all those in support of its campaign to contact them on 028 9031 2089 or sign its online petition at www.fightfuelcut.org.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575