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Highland Senior Citizen’s Network leader flags 'heat or eat' concerns for elderly as fuel poverty campaign hots up


By Val Sweeney

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MORE elderly people in the Highlands could find themselves struggling to heat their homes this winter, a campaign group has warned.

Dr Ian McNamara, chairman of the Highland Senior Citizen’s Network, says pensioners are among those at particular risk of fuel poverty.

“I am absolutely sure it is going to get worse,” he said.

He sounded the warning as Age Scotland – backed by other charities and organisations – called on the Scottish Government to give pensioners in poverty and on low incomes an extra £50 to help heat their homes this winter.

Dr McNamara said heating costs were a particular worry for those on a basic UK state pension which was not keeping up with inflation due to the suspension of the triple lock formula.

“I think it is well known that the UK old age pension is almost at the bottom of the league in European nations,” he said.

“It is one of the poorest in Europe and has been for a long time.”

He also worried about those who were living alone in relative isolation who faced the choice of heating or eating, and might start to eat less which in turn led to loss of weight and other problems.

He acknowledged that people could seek advice on how to economise but did not feel there was a quick fix other than money.

Age Concern, meanwhile, is urging the Scottish Government to introduce a new £50 payment to help pensioners in poverty or on low and fixed incomes meet the increasing cost of heating their homes to a safe level.

It says a one-off payment would be a vital boost, making a significant difference to the wellbeing of older people on the lowest income during this challenging winter period brought on by rapidly rising energy prices, cost of living and inflation.

It estimates it would directly help more than 130,000 pensioners at a cost of £6.65 million, and would be a preventative spend to relieve the incredible pressure faced by the NHS and social care this winter.

The proposal is backed by Citizens Advice Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, the Scottish Older People’s Assembly, About Dementia, the Stroke Association, and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.

Papers reveal stark realities of rural poverty in Highlands


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