Fears About Surviving Winter.

Nov 10 • Featured, Uncategorized • 992 Views • 2 Comments on Fears About Surviving Winter.

How tragic is the story in yesterday’s news about Mark and Helen Mullins, an Army veteran and his wife who died in a suicide pact after feeling they couldn’t face another winter in extreme poverty?

The couple had just one income from Mark’s benefits after his wife, who had learning disabilities, had her benefits stopped. Friends say they had fallen through the net and should have been helped by the state. In a documentary video earlier this year Mr Mullins’ had said he and his wife were trapped in benefits nightmare: “The job centre decided Helen couldn’t sign on as she was incapable of employment as she has no literacy and numeracy skills. However, the incapacity people wouldn’t recognise her disabilities, which led to month after month of seeing specialists. We’re in a catch 22 situation,” he had said.

With so many people also now struggling with rising costs and many like the Mullins’ worried about surviving winter, it hasn’t helped that the eligibility to benefits has become more confusing and that despite sky-high energy prices, the Government has cut winter fuel payments from £400 to £300 for the over-80s, and £250 to £200 for all other pensioners.

According to official figures this means 5.4 million households are now in fuel poverty, of which almost half are aged over 60. It’s a shocking stat when you consider that around 25,400 older people in the UK died last winter because of the extreme cold weather.

It’s also one reason why a new campaign called The Surviving Winter Appeal, has been launched today. The aim is initially to encourage better off pensioners to donate their winter fuel payments to help older and vulnerable people who cannot afford to pay their fuel bills but anyone can make a donation. The money raised will be used to support local charities and community organisations who can reach the people most in need of help.

It’s a fantastic idea, but at the same time our government should be ashamed of themselves leaving it to ordinary people who are also struggling to help the needy.  Surely when we’re spending extreme amounts of money on overseas aid, the 2012 Olympics and bailing out other countries funding should also be there to help our own old and vulnerable. The very people who worked hard and have paid their dues. It makes me quite disgusted.

What are your thoughts?


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2 Responses to Fears About Surviving Winter.

  1. Rachel says:

    While I appreciate the sentiment I’m not sure that winter fuel payments are the best way to deal with fuel poverty. (I qualify for help through disability/income so I have some notion of how tough it is to meet bills) What would be better would be for the energy companies to forced to
    a. structure their charges in such a way that they are easily comparable, and
    b. load the prices onto the high users – at the moment people pay more per unit to start with and then get a lower rate if they use more.
    These two changes would have the effect of keeping prices competitive by making it easier for people to see where to get more fuel for their money and allowing those on the lowest incomes (pensioners, disabled and those supported by the taxpayer through benefits) to afford the fuel they need.
    At the moment we have a ridiculous situation where those with least pay most funded by the taxpayer – so why is the government still subsidising the shareholders?
    (A similarargument can be used to reform housing allowance.)

    • Anita says:

      Rachel I completely agree with you. The blame does lie with the energy companies and the gov who let them get away with their price hikes every year. If only wages would go up as fast (as if).


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