Press release


Tuesday 13 November 2012

- Over 25,000 older people die each year in the UK due to extreme cold - more than other European countries with much colder winters
- Means-testing Winter Fuel Payments would lead to more pensioner deaths as many won't claim
- Paying to all pensioners is important but we can help those who feel they don't need the money to ‘recycle' it to others struggling to keep warm


With energy prices set to rise, Saga is once again backing the ‘Surviving Winter' campaign. The exciting initiative, run by the Communities Foundation Network, begun as a way to enable pensioners to ‘recycle' some of all of their Winter Fuel Payment to help vulnerable people struggling with their energy bills.  It has broadened into a national appeal for donations that will mean more people can stay warm and well this winter.


For older people, cold weather can be particularly life-threatening.  Shockingly, over 25,000 UK pensioners die due to the cold, according to the Office of National Statistics each winter. Saga wants to try to prevent many of these ‘excess winter deaths' and help older people struggling to keep warm this winter.


The campaign was a huge success last year - raising £2 million and helping over 20,000 people - thanks to the wonderful media support, endorsements from celebrities and the generous people who donated. This year, Stephen Fry has lent his support and Saga hopes to build on last year's success, especially as fuel costs are even higher now.


Every pound donated to this campaign is spent on those in need. Community Foundations across the country will be helping those at risk with energy bills, insulation or repairs and giving practical help, such as providing hot meals.


Dr Ros Altmann, Saga Director-General says:


"Every year, the winter freeze poses a very real problem for older people struggling to keep warm. This campaign started after some of our customers wrote to us to ask if there was a way to use 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 last year, vulnerable older people are suffering a double whammy, so Saga is fully behind this venture, helping channel donations into the right hands and helping older people keep warm and well. 


"We are particularly concerned about the statistics showing that the UK has a higher winter death rate among older people than 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 older people need all the help they can get to keep their homes warm.


"Of course, it need not only be pensioners who donate money - anyone can help. 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. This initiative facilitates a way for those who don't feel they need their Winter Fuel Payment to donate it to someone who is struggling with the cost of heating."


People wishing to make a donation can go to


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