Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Huge concern at implications of Help the Aged survey

6 November, 2006


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Older People, Newry Armagh MLA Pat O'Rawe has said that survey published today by Help the Aged shows that many many older people are not heating their homes adequately and Ms O'Rawe demanded an immediate response from British direct rule ministers.

Ms O'Rawe said:

"This survey shows that many many older people are not heating their homes adequately because they are afraid of the cost. This means that they are at a greater risk of ill health and death because of cold weather. Considering that over the last five years that almost 2000 older people have died unnecessarily from cold weather this situation is totally unacceptable.

"The fact is that too many of our older people are suffering the indignity of living in a cold home and being forced to make the choice between heating and spending money on other essentials.

"Over the past year the cost of oil, coal and electivity has increased significantly yet the winter fuel payment has remained virtually static.

"The comparison with Sweden in the survey, where temperatures are colder and fuel prices higher, demonstrates that there is something very wrong with our approach, an approach that is failing older people." ENDS

Note to Editors

Key findings in the Help the Aged survey include:

· Nearly a third (31 per cent) of pensioners avoided heating rooms in their house last winter because they were worried about the cost

· 20 per cent of pensioners stayed in bed longer to keep warm

· 16 per cent of pensioners turned off their heating even though they were cold because they were worried about the cost

· 14 per cent of pensioners wore outdoor clothing indoors to keep warm

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