Donate to Surviving Winter campaign
The scheme, which is backed by Saga and public figures including Ann Widdecombe, Sir Terry Wogan and Sir Michael Parkinson aims to help the elderly who are struggling to meet fuel bills and combat the growing issue of winter deaths.
The initiative called 'Surviving Winter' started last year in a few local areas and will be taken nationwide this year, with local charities and community organisations across the entire country joining together to identify people at risk of being unable to heat their homes properly and helping them survive the cold.
Cold weather can be life threatening for older people. Shocking figures from the Office for National Statistics found that 25,400 older people in the UK died last winter due to the cold – and this happens every year.
Scheme launchedThe scheme will be launched in Parliament today in collaboration with the Community Foundation Network. It allows recipients of the Government's tax-free Winter Fuel Payments, who feel that they don't need the money, to donate it to help others in their communities who are struggling through the cold winter months.
Dr Ros Altmann, Saga Director-General says: "Some of our customers last year wrote to us to say they would like their Winter Fuel Payments to help others less fortunate than themselves. With rising fuel costs and the Government's decision to cut the Winter Fuel Payments this year, vulnerable older people are suffering a double whammy, so Saga is fully behind this new 'fuel-anthropic' venture, helping channel donations into the right hands.
Desperate need"We are particularly concerned about the statistics showing that the UK has a higher winter death rate among older people than most other European countries, even those with much colder winters than ours. We are aware that the UK has a much less energy efficient housing stock than most of Europe, meaning vulnerable people need all the help they can get to keep warm this winter."
Donation to the Surviving Winter appeal is not limited to those in receipt of the Winter Fuel Payment – anyone can contribute to help support struggling pensioners to keep warm during the winter.
Saga highlights that anyone donating to the appeal can claim Gift Aid relief - for basic rate taxpayers, this will add 20% to your donation. Higher rate taxpayers can claim extra relief against their future tax bill.
Donations can be made by contacting your local Community Foundation.