Saga Surviving Winter Appeal Logo

by Deborah Burley

Sir David Jason has joined other wealthy pensioners pledging their winter fuel allowance in a effort to recycle the payment and help vulnerable and poverty stricken households for Saga’s Surviving Winter Appeal.

The tax-free fuel payments, which have been reduced heavily this year by up to £100, are being donated by a number of senior celebrities, along with Sir David Jason, including Sir Michael Parkinson, Anne Widdecombe and Dame Cleo Laine.

The government allowance is given to all households where someone is over 60 years of age, regardless of income.

However, this year for the first time, the coalition are due to remove the ‘top up’ payment, resulting in a reduction of payment from £400 to £300 for bill payers over 80 and £250 to £200 for those over 60.

The allowance won’t cover the full amounts needed for households in Britain living in poverty and there is a level of shock surrounding the unneeded allowance for the estimated 100,000 recipients who are earning over £100, 000 annually.

The donation plans come shortly after Age UK released statistics that 200 people in Britain will die every day during the winter months as a result of cold related illnesses.

Age UK’s research manager, Phillip Rossall, said: “Among older people, the effects of cold housing were evident in terms of higher mortality risk, physical health and mental health”. He also claimed that the elderly were having to make the choice between heating or food.

And recent uSwitch research revealed that 6.3 million household in the UK were likely to fall into fuel poverty – where more than 10% of a household’s income is spent on energy – following a series of energy price rises.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch, said at the time: “… all households should also look to invest in longer-term energy efficiency measures, such as loft insulation and cavity walls.

“Those who would struggle to afford this investment should contact their energy supplier to see whether they would qualify for any energy efficiency grants or financial support.

It’s hoped that these figures can be reduced with the celebrity effort to encourage others to part with their winter fuel allowance, if they themselves do not need the financial support.

Sir David Jason said: “I wanted to pledge my payment to the Surviving Winter Appeal.

“It would be great to think that all those people who are in a position to forego part or all of their own winter fuel payment could join this great scheme and spread a little warmth.”

Those wishing to join the celebrities in their pledge can go to the Saga website to make a donation.

For information on the Winter Fuel Payment or other government schemes, visit the uSwitch energy saving grants guide.

What do you think about Saga’s Surviving Winter Appeal? Are you shocked at Age UK’s recent statistics? Are you concerned about getting through this winter? Leave your comments below: