Therese Coffey outlines the benefits of Pension Credit scheme
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Arthritis is a common condition affecting pensioners, which usually causes pain and swelling in the joints, resulting in the need for care and maintenance.
According to research carried out by Age UK, around 150,000 extra older households are set to be pushed into fuel poverty this winter due to the energy bill rise.
The charity estimates that this figure could rise to 1.1 million households if the issue is not addressed appropriately.
One individual who receives support from Age UK is Geraldine, aged 77, who said: “I have arthritis which is worse when it is cold. I will have to keep my heating low now.
“Already I wear gloves on my hands and a heat pack inside my leggings to help my back.”
As part of its “The Cost of Cold” campaign, Age UK is calling for greater awareness about the benefits available to pensioners to mitigate the rising cost of living.
One such benefit is Pension Credit, which gives claimants extra cash to assist with their living costs if they are over the state pension age of 66 and on a low income.
Estimates from Age UK suggest that nearly a million pensioner households are missing out on Pension Credit payments.
Overall, these payments are the equivalent of £1.6 billion every year from the Government in financial support.
Individually, claimants would get an average of £32 a week, or over £1,600 a year, to spend on their rising energy bills.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “There’s no doubt that media reports about rising energy bills are filling pensioners on low-fixed incomes with absolute dread.
“More than twenty-five thousand people have told us how worried they are, and it is clear that as things stand, some fully expect to have to choose between cutting down on food or turning down their heating, once the cold weather sets in.
“Doing either is a potential risk to their health, especially if they are living with serious underlying health conditions like heart disease or COPD.”
The poverty expert explained how pensioners are most at risk from the continuing energy crisis which has led to bills skyrocketing in recent months.
Ms Abrahams added: “At Age UK our greatest concern is that some older people will not even try to keep their homes adequately warm this winter, for fear of incurring big bills they cannot afford to pay.
“Many older people are brilliant at making a small budget go a long way, but that’s unlikely to be enough to protect them from the impact of rising household bills and soaring energy costs this time round.
“New Age UK analysis suggests that another 150,000 older households could be dragged into fuel poverty by the spring, unless the Government acts now to provide those at greatest risk with more financial support.
“We are calling for a package of measures to be brought in immediately, targeted at the older people who need extra help the most.
“The package should include a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund that councils distribute to tackle fuel poverty in their areas.
“We are also calling for a renewed push to get more older people to claim the Pension Credit they are due.”
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