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PENSIONERS accused Tory ministers of washing their hands of Britain’s fuel poverty crisis after charities revealed that one elderly person dies of cold every seven minutes.
The National Pensioners Convention said Whitehall was keeping shtum about new figures showing that as many as two in five older people are rationing their heating for fear of costly energy bills.
The figures came as the Met Office warned of falling temperatures and snow in parts of Scotland and England in the coming days.
Convention general secretary Dot Gibson told the Star: “What we see in the UK is the worst combination of low incomes amongst pensioners, poorly insulated housing and rising fuel prices.
“This led to one pensioner dying every seven minutes last winter and will only get worse unless the government acts on curbing the profits of the energy companies, redoubling efforts to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock and raising the state pension.
“Up till now ministers have simply washed their hands of the problems caused by fuel poverty, when we know that cold can kill. “It’s a national scandal and Whitehall remains silent.”
A survey conducted by comparethemarket.com with people aged 65 and over revealed how more than half worried their pensions would not be enough to cover the costs of soaring bills.
Over 60 per cent admitted they switched off their heating during the winter to cope. Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: “The UK has an appalling record on cold-related deaths, with one older person dying every seven minutes from the winter cold.
“Even ‘normal cold’ temperatures of around six degrees significantly raise the risk of life-changing health problems such as heart attacks and strokes.”
Energy wholesale prices have fallen by almost half over the past two years but the average household bill has only fallen 14 per cent, costing more than £1,300 a year to most.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it is “taking action” through discounts and increasing competition in the energy market.
“But energy companies need to put their customers first and with wholesale costs coming down we expect savings to be passed on to them,” he said.
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