Islington pensioners face ‘heat or eat’ decision this winter

The elderly face a decision to "heat or eat" this winter, says charity

The elderly face a decision to "heat or eat" this winter, says charity - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Islington pensioners face a shocking “heat or eat” decision this winter which could see deaths rocket across the borough, it is feared.

Support groups and charities are warning that terrified pensioners could be forced into turning off their heating in a bid to save cash thanks to escalating energy prices.

The warning came after three of the big energy companies announced price hikes of as much as 10 per cent.

Currently around 60 people die each year in Islington due to the cold weather but fear over paying higher bills could see many go without – pushing the figure even higher.

George Durack, chair of the Islington Pensioners Forum, said: “It is of terrific concern for the people who come to us but for those who do not come and don’t have this voice, it is more of a worry.

“I can well imagine there will be a lot of people dying. It is quite unbelievable that these companies are putting prices so high.”

Ever since the rises were announced Age UK Islington has fielded calls from pensioners worried about paying their bills.

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The charity said older people were also at a disadvantage when trying to find cheaper providers as most did not have computers – meaning they can not easily compare rates.

Cllr Janet Burgess, member for health and wellbeing, also attacked the price rise which, she claims, could hit extra-hard in the borough.

She said: “Fuel poverty is increasing particularly in boroughs like Islington. This will hit them hard and I fear the choice about ‘eat or heat’ will be a reality for many pensioners.”

To help older people during the winter, Age UK Islington is running a Well Winter campaign which will give tips on keeping warm with easy exercises, low cost meals and highlighting local activities they can take part in.

A special event where older people can ask for advice will also be held on Wednesday November 27 at the Drovers Centre in North Road, Holloway.

Islington Council is also running SHINE (Seasonal Health Interventions Network) which helps people compare energy providers and choose a cheaper one – all without the need of a computer.

To speak to people at SHINE call 0800 953 1221. To speak to Age UK Islington for advice or to organise a face-to-face meeting call 020 7281 6018.