The winter weather has continued to cause disruption across the country, and earlier in the week the National Grid warned power suppliers to cut down on gas consumption due to a national shortage. But for some this time of year is especially hard to deal with.

Recent reports by volunteer workers suggest that ‘large numbers’ of elderly people are literally burning books to keep warm due to high energy prices. Charity shops have said hardback books are being sought as cheap sources of fuel for stoves and fires, being available for pennies in comparison to prices such as £5 for a 20kg bag of coal. Energy prices have been spiralling upwards, gas bills having risen by an average of 40 % and electricity prices 20 % since January 2008.

A study in March 2009 showed that up to 5 million households across the UK are in fuel poverty*. With lower wholesale prices and increasing profit margins for energy companies, it is disgusting that the most vulnerable in society have to resort to such desperate measures to simply keep warm. The government has done little to deal with the problem. We call for FREE heating to the disabled, pensioners, unemployed and most vulnerable people in society. It is time to put a basic human need for shelter and warmth above the capitalist need for profit.

*Defined as the need to spend over 10% of a household’s income on fuel use to provide adequate heating.

For more information or advice visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk or call Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99

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