Independent Age

Over Three Quarters Of A Million Over-65s Have Had To Choose Between Heating And Eating

Independent-AgeIndependent Age reveals new stats to launch Winter Wise leaflet

An estimated 752,000 older people have had to choose between paying for food and paying for heating. Meanwhile, almost half (43%) of those aged 65 and over say they have gone to bed early to stay warm at least once, with an estimated 890,000 older people doing this often or even every day. That’s according to a new survey by older people’s charity, Independent Age, to launch their new Winter Wise advice leaflet for older people, their families and carers.

Other key findings include:

·         One in 17 (6%) people aged 65-plus say they don’t eat a hot meal every day in winter

·         One in 17 (6%) people aged 65-plus say they heat one or no rooms in their home in winter

·         Two-thirds (66%) of those aged 65-plus say they feel more isolated and/or go out less in winter

There are 11.4 million people aged 65 and over in the UK[1], and, according to the poll, just over one-third (36%) do not heat their home adequately some, most, or all of the time in winter because of worry about paying fuel bills. One in 17 (6%) of those surveyed heat only one room or no rooms at all in winter, equivalent to an estimated 700,000 people. The results also suggest that one in seven (13%) of those aged 65-plus have even resorted to going to a library, a shopping centre or using public transport just to stay warm in winter.

Older people can be more susceptible to fuel poverty as they may find they have to heat their homes for longer due to health and mobility problems and the need to stay indoors for longer. One-third (33%) of pensioner households have a net weekly income of under £300[2] and 1.6 million older people still live in poverty, 900,000 of whom live in severe poverty[3].

According to the poll, two-thirds (66%) of over-65s feel more isolated and/or go out less in winter. In addition to this, almost half of respondents (46%) say they are prevented from leaving their home in the winter because they don’t like the cold and/or damp and two-fifths (40%) don’t go out because they’re worried about slipping and falling on ice or wet ground.

The survey supports the launch of Independent Age’s new Winter Wise leaflet, which provides practical advice and tips to older people, their families and carers on how to look after yourself during the coldest months. The advice spans from eating well and staying healthy to keeping your home warm and making winter more affordable.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said, “It is saddening that so many pensioners are faced with the choice of heating or eating during the coldest months of the year. While much more needs to be done to ensure that older people get the support they need in winter, there are also many practical actions that can be taken. These include wearing several thin layers of clothing, having more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and drawing the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in. This and more advice for winter is available in our free Winter Wise leaflet for older people, their families and carers.”

The guide is free to order and download from or call 0800 319 6789 to order a leaflet.