Thursday 18 October 2012

Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General at Saga:


"Many people, including millions of pensioners, are not on the internet and may struggle to find the best deals on their energy tariffs. Any move which helps people obtain the best deal would be very warmly welcome.  We would urge the Government to iron out the details of these plans quickly as we approach another potentially harsh winter.

“With energy bills at record highs and pensioner Winter Fuel payments now lower, it is vital to be aware of the needs of those struggling to keep warm. Older people often spend more time at home, especially in the winter, which means they spend a much higher proportion of their income on heating their homes.

"Inflation rates remain higher for the over-50s, reflecting in part the fact that utility prices are still much higher than a year ago. We know from our own research just how much of a burden energy prices are on the finances of those faced with fixed or dwindling incomes, especially older generations, of whom 29% are having to raid savings every month in order to make ends meet."

Saga has been calling for fairer access for older people to the best energy prices and has put together some advice to help people find the best deals for themselves.  Of course, if energy companies were obliged to help with this, it would be a major boost to many people's quality of life.

These are Saga's current tips for older people struggling with fuel bills:

1. Don't accept the prices from your old supplier if you can beat them elsewhere – a phone call is all that it should take to switch.
2. Look on-line – or ask a friend or relative to help – to work out the best tariff for your typical energy usage.
3. Avoid deals sold on the telephone or doorstep which appear to be too good to be true.
4. Set up direct debit payments to avoid extra ‘admin’ charges and to spread energy costs more evenly.
5. Review the energy saving measures in your home – check out entitlements for insulation from your council, the Government or energy supplier.



Saga has conducted a Survey asking for over 50s attitudes to heating costs, with the following results
1. 87% of over 50s think it is the government’s job – not that of individuals – to help the vulnerable to heat their home.
2. 90% of people over 50 think the winter fuel allowance is important of whom 2/3 consider it very important.
3. Only a mere 1% of people over 50 believe pensioners do not need additional help with their heating costs.
4. Nearly half (46%) of those with a medical condition (half of people of 50) said that extreme weather conditions affect their symptoms.
5. 64% of over 50s agreed that advance warning of weather conditions and advice on how to cope with them would be useful when faced with winter weather.
6. Last winter 25,000 pensioners died of cold in this country - these 'excess winter deaths' are shameful and rising fuel costs will exacerbate the problems.

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