Solicitor Lianne Lodge responds to news the Scottish Government is set to add £5m to the Energy Assistance Package.
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associate at Pagan Osborne and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, writes:
I write in response to the Scottish Government’s announcement to add £5m to the Energy Assistance Package.
Of course this news is to be welcomed. With ever-increasing fuel bills, everyone has felt the squeeze particularly the vulnerable and elderly in society.
Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil has said no-one should have to choose between ‘heating and eating’ this winter – however the sad truth is that despite this funding boost, many still will be in that terrible position.
The Winter Fuel Payment has been slashed and bills have soared at a time when the general cost of living has continued to climb. This will have an effect on the elderly, one of the most vulnerable groups in society.
It’s important this £5m figure is put into perspective however welcome it is.
The Energy Assistance Package will have supported many thousands of people and its impact should not be underestimated. My concern is though the accessibility of such schemes for elderly people who may not know what help is available or how to ask for help. This proud generation may not feel comfortable asking for help but they should be encouraged to claim what they are entitled to so they can live healthy, comfortable and happy lives.
Recent statistics revealed 65% of pensioners in Scotland are fuel poor and in the UK in 2009 nine elderly people every hour died of cold-related illnesses.
With an ever-rising cost of living, a major squeeze on the public purse and growing elderly population, this situation will not get any better unless real action is taken and is taken quickly. This boost to the Energy Assistance Package is a positive step forward.
Associate, Pagan Osborne and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly
Queen Street, Edinburgh