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Author: Age Sector Platform
Published on 26 March 2013 09:30 AM

Whilst forecasters are currently predicting that the month of March will be the coldest in 50 years, Age Sector Platform has called on the NI Executive to assist pensioners struggling to heat their homes this winter.

The charity, which is responsible for the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, claims a £100 fuel payment made last winter to vulnerable pensioners made a huge difference and has called for the payment to be made again to help older people struggling to heat their homes.

Francis Hughes, energy spokesperson for Age Sector Platform, said: “Energy prices has been the number one concern for older people at this year’s Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, with four out of five older people concerned about keeping warm in winter. Ever since the Winter Fuel Allowance was cut by the Coalition Government in 2011, the vast majority of pensioners have been struggling to make ends meet when it comes to their energy bills. Losing between £50 and £100 was quite a blow to many, especially when considering the high cost of energy here.”

“Last year, the NI Executive acknowledged this problem and provided an extra payment of £100 to pensioners on low incomes. We hoped that this issue would be tackled more vigorously but one year on there is no evidence of any progress. We therefore believe that in the absence of any extra help from energy suppliers that the NI Executive should again help out those most in need by providing a similar payment this year.”

Mr Hughes continued: “Last winter the number of excess deaths in Northern Ireland was 496; all of whom were people aged over 65. The last time all excess winter deaths were older people was 14 years ago. It is clear that older people are being hit hardest by the rising cost of energy and the reduction to their incomes. We hope that this current cold snap acts as a much needed prompt for our Executive to take action to prevent even more deaths this winter.”

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