Last winter 9 pensioners an hour died from ‘cold related deaths’ and around 4 million homes are said to be in ‘Fuel Poverty’ (spending more than 10% of income on heating) according to National Statistics.
If you receive one of a range of income-related benefits then your energy supplier should offer you a slightly cheaper rate called a Social Tariff.
You should also qualify for a Cold Weather Payment of £25.
This occurs each time the temperature in your area is recorded below zero for 7 consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March.
If you were state pension age on the 3rd Monday in September you qualify for Winter Fuel payment.
This can be between £125 and £400 depending on your situation.
All these benefits should be paid automatically, but if you are missing out and want to check if you are entitled you can look at www.direct.gov.uk or ask your local CAB for a benefit check.
The Department of Health has produced a guide called Keep Warm Keep Well, it can be downloaded at www.dh.gov.uk.
It gives useful tips on how to keep healthy and what grants and benefits are available to help with heating costs.
If your street is short of grit or not being cleared of snow and ice, there’s a handy website www.fixmystreet.com where you can enter details that will be passed to your local council. You can also report a range of other problems such as broken street lighting or paving slabs.
Free, confidential advice and help is available on any aspect of this article as well as debt, benefits, employment, and any other problems.
You can contact the Grange or Windermere Citizens Advice Bureau by phone or in person. Call 015395 33100 / 015394 46464.