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As the UK government rolls out reduced winter fuel payments, the elderly feel the chill over rising energy prices.



This harrowing reality, faced by thousands of UK pensioners, follows the announcement earlier this year that the 2011/2012 winter fuel payments were to be reduced by 25 per cent. The staggering increases to rates implemented by the 'Big Six' energy companies mean that the over-sixties are now bearing the brunt of austerity measures.



It was announced in March that the UK Winter Fuel Allowance was to be slashed in a bid to curb government spending. The over 60's had their annual winter payment of £250 cut to £200, whilst the over 80's annual payment of £400 was reduced to £300. Both the Government and energy companies now face a frosty reception as pensioners struggle to make ends meet.



Recipients of the basic state pension will be hit hardest this winter, as the following breakdown of figures demonstrates:




Basic State Pension - £102.15 p/week
Winter Fuel Allowance - £12.50 p/week



TV License - £2.80 p/weekLandline/Mobile Phone Bill - £7 p/week
Water - £8.00 p/week
Gas & Electricity - £23 p/week
Food & Toiletries & Household Items - £35 p/week
Travel - £10 p/week
Home Insurance - £3 p/week


Total Disposable Income= £25.85


Calculations: Castle Cover


After essential costs, recipients of the basic state pension are left with a meagre £25 in their pockets, which means for some, this winter will present difficult decisions. It may be that many senior citizens are forced to choose between buying warm clothing, or having the heating on.


There has been a dramatic increase to energy prices over the last decade. The average electricity bill has leapt up by 98% since 1990, and gas has risen even higher, by 117%. As a result, the number of senior citizens living in fuel poverty is expected to exceed last year's figure of 2 million.


The increase to numbers of those living in fuel poverty this winter could have severe implications to the health and wellbeing of UK pensioners. Last year, around 40 000 senior citizens died as a result of cold related illnesses, and it's feared that this year's mortality rate could be even worse.

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