Age Cymru urges older people to keep their homes warm this winter to maintain their health, despite the financial challenges many are facing. Our Spread the Warmth campaign highlights the health benefits of keeping yourself and your home warm. Pension Credit is one way to make this possible.
Keeping warm puts less strain on the heart and lungs, while improving the symptoms of existing health conditions and assisting with pain management. Being warm can protect people’s physical and mental wellbeing and help them to become more resilient to the many challenges posed by winter.
While we have yet to hear what levels of financial support may be provided by the Welsh and UK governments this winter, it is important that people claim all their financial entitlements. Last year more than £200mn of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales.
The average Pension Credit award is worth more than £3,500 per year and can open doors to a whole host of other benefits. These include support with energy bills, help with council tax and rent, reduced water bills, free NHS dental treatment, and a free TV licence if over 75 years of age.
Pension Credit works by topping up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £201.05 or a pensioner couple to £306.85, or more in some circumstances. It is entirely separate from the state pension.
Warm, safe, and well
If eligible, you should already have been contacted by your GP surgery and invited to make an appointment for your free flu vaccination. However, this year healthy 50–64 year olds will not be included in the NHS free vaccination programme. But you can still ask your local chemist for a paid vaccine. There are also vaccines available for pneumococcal and shingles for some people.
Contact a registered heating engineer to service your heating system before the onset of winter. It’s also a good idea to contact a chimney sweep to check that vents and chimneys are clean and clear of debris to allow smoke and toxic gases to escape. And check smoke detectors are positioned properly and are working so they will give you an early warning if a fire starts in your home.
Most utility services host a Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers to provide early warnings of disruption to services, and to provide specialist advice. So ask your supplier how to register for this free service.
Spread the Warmth
Age Cymru’s Health Initiatives officer, Angharad Phillips, says: “We urge older people not to cut out heating their home altogether. At the very least people should keep their bedroom and at least one living room at a safe temperature of between 18 to 21 degrees.”
“Cutting back on safety checks or servicing could cause greater risks to your safety and your health. Be ready and reassured that your heating will work for you when you need it later in the year. Throughout this campaign Age Cymru will be sharing information and ideas on how to keep your home warm as economically as possible.”
“Try to put things in place now, as we know the weather can change and temperatures can drop quickly. Reach out to charities such as Age Cymru, health professionals, and your energy supplier to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself and your home warm this winter.”
For more information on our Spread the Warmth campaign or for more information about claiming Pension Credit, call 029 2043 1555 or visit our website here. You can read myth-busting tips on keeping warm in Welsh here and English here.