Winter help for Sunderland’s older people after cold weather claimed 130 lives

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland.

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland.

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A CHARITY boss has welcomed plans to help pensioners stay warm this winter.

More than 100,000 pensioners in the North East could receive money off their energy bills after the Government expanded its Warm Home Discount Scheme.

More than two million people across the country will receive the subsidy – including 101,000 in our region – twice as many as when the scheme first launched in 2011.

The initiative, which helps vulnerable and low-income households with their energy bills, has been expanded to include everyone receiving Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest working-age people will also qualify for the subsidy, which has been increased to £140 from £120 last year.

DWP Minister Steve Webb said: “As we approach winter, no-one should have to go without heating because they can’t afford the bills.

“That’s why we have significantly extended the Warm Home Discount Scheme – and increased its value – to give people peace of mind that they can keep their homes comfortable throughout the coldest months.” Age UK Sunderland welcomed the move, but warned older people were still at risk from the cold.

Director Alan Patchett said: “Excess winter deaths and fuel poverty are still issues that must be addressed further. Sunderland had 130 excess winter deaths in 2011/12 and this is a situation which cannot be tolerated.”

For more details about the scheme, log on to www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.