Press release


Wednesday 9 November 2011

  • New appeal will ‘recycle’ Winter Fuel Payments to older people as fuel bills set to soar
  • Over 25,000 older people died last winter due to extreme cold – we want to help this year


With rising fuel costs and another extreme winter predicted, Saga is backing an initiative called ‘Surviving Winter’ that will enable pensioners to give their Winter Fuel Payment to those who may be in more need of it. 
For older people, cold weather can be particularly life-threatening.  Shockingly, 25,400 older people in the U.K. died last winter due to the cold, according to the Office of National Statistics and this happens every winter. Saga wants to try to help prevent many of these ‘excess winter deaths’ this year.
This exciting initiative, which could perhaps be called 'fuel-anthropy', will be launched in Parliament on 10th November in collaboration with the Community Foundation Network and aims to deliver more winter warmth to vulnerable people struggling with their energy bills.
This innovative scheme provides a mechanism for recipients of the Government’s tax-free Winter Fuel Payments, who may feel they don’t need the money, to donate it to help others in their communities who are struggling through the cold winter months.
The initiative started last year in a few local areas, but this year, the aim is to take it nationwide, with local charities and community organisations across the entire country joining together to identify people at risk of being unable to heat their homes properly and helping them survive the cold. Saga’s role is to help bring more winter warmth to older people for whom extreme cold can be fatal.
Community Foundations across the country will be helping to save lives by delivering donations or practical help to older people and responding to each community’s needs.
Dr Ros Altmann, Saga Director-General says: “Some of our customers last year wrote to us to say they would like their Winter Fuel Payments to help others less fortunate than themselves. With rising fuel costs and the Government's decision to cut the Winter Fuel Payments this year, vulnerable older people are suffering a double whammy, so Saga is fully behind this new 'fuel-anthropic' venture, helping channel donations into the right hands. 
Of course, it need not only be pensioners who donate money from their Winter Fuel Payments.  We are offering all our over 50s customers a chance to help those in need to cope with soaring fuel costs through the winter by making a donation to this appeal.
“Donating Winter Fuel Payments is just one way to help, but anyone can give as much or as little as they want to this ‘Surviving Winter’ appeal. We feel it is important, as part of a caring society, to support people struggling to keep warm and well this winter”, said Ros Altmann.
“We are particularly concerned about the statistics showing that the UK has a higher winter death rate among older people than most other European countries, even those with much colder winters than ours.  We are aware that the UK has a much less energy efficient housing stock than most of Europe, meaning vulnerable people need all the help they can get to keep warm this winter.”
People wishing to make a donation can go to the Saga website to donate or contact their local Community Foundation. 



About Winter Fuel Payments
A Winter Fuel Payment is the annual payment made to eligible people to help towards their winter heating costs.  Pensioners over age 80 received £400 last year - this year the amount has been cut to just £300, despite soaring energy costs. Pensioners under age 80 received £250 last year and will receive £200 this year. The money is paid as a tax-free lump sum and in most cases is paid automatically, although some people will need to claim it.

Tax relief on Charity Donations
Anyone donating to the Appeal can claim Gift Aid relief – for basic rate taxpayers, this will add 20% to your donation.  Higher rate taxpayers can claim extra relief against their future tax bill. Thus, recycling the Winter Fuel Payments can mean that people not only give pensioners more than their tax free Payment, but also earn extra themselves. A win-win!!

About the Surviving Winter Appeal
The money raised by the Surviving Winter Appeal will be used to support local charities and community organisations who can reach the people most in need of help and make sure they can afford to stay warm, eat well and remain mobile in the winter.

This is a registered charity, so donations can be made via Gift Aid and the Appeal will receive tax relief, increasing the value of donations by allowing the Community Foundation Network to claim extra money on each donation . Those who pay higher rate tax you can claim extra relief on their donations.

About the Community Network Foundation
Community Foundation Network represents the community foundation movement in the UK. Its aim is to help donors create lasting value from their local giving through its network of 57 community foundations.

Community foundations are charities located across the UK dedicated to strengthening local communities, creating opportunities and tackling issues of disadvantage and exclusion. Community foundations manage funds donated by individuals and organisations, building endowment and acting as the vital link between donors and local needs.
97% of the population live in the area of benefit of a community foundation and CFN manages funds on behalf of the Office of Civil Society, Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief as well as private philanthropists.