Saga is particularly concerned that more must be done to help avoid unnecessary illness or even death among the nations older generations. Dr. Ros Altmann, Director-General, said:
"Today's figures from ONS show that 24,000 pensioners died of cold last winter in the UK. While this is a welcome reduction from over 26,000 the previous year, this shocking statistic shows that much more needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable in society over the coldest months of the year.
" In a recent survey of some 8,500 over 50s, 58% were already worrying about the costs of heating their homes this winter and more than a third (35%) were already struggling with heating bills. Energy prices are already much higher than last winter and they are predicted to rise further which could leave many more older people at risk.
''Therefore, the Community Foundation Network's ‘Surviving Winter’ campaign, which enables the better off pensioners to ‘recycle’ some or all of their Winter Fuel Payment to help vulnerable people struggling with their energy bills, is even more important then ever.
''Last Winter, Saga supported the Surviving Winter Campaign, which helped more than 20,000 vulnerable people who were struggling to afford the spiralling cost of heating their homes. This year we are again supporting the campaign and we hope to be able to help even more people.
“Of course, it need not only be pensioners who donate money from their Winter Fuel Payments – anyone can help to ensure more people stay warm and well this winter. Winter Fuel Payments are an essential lifeline for many pensioners during the cold winter months and we strongly oppose any move to means-test this benefit as those who need the money may not receive it.”