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2006 Retired Members' Conference
16 June 2006

Conference notes that:

1)each winter more than 25,000 older people die from cold-related illnesses;

2)in the last five years more than 130,000 people over 65 have died as a result of the cold;

3)EU countries that experience more severe winters than the UK, such as Finland, Denmark and Austria all have much lower levels of winter deaths.

A major factor is the poor standard of housing in this country and this adversely affects older people as they tend to live in the oldest houses and these are harder to heat.

The high number of winter deaths among older people continues despite the following initiatives:

a)Winter Fuel Payments;

b)The Warm Front Scheme, funded by the government which provides grants to make homes warmer, healthier and more energy efficient;

c)Grants from local councils for help with house renovation and improvement including insulation.

Conference further notes that UNISON is affiliated nationally to the National Right to Fuel Campaign which campaigns for an end to fuel poverty by securing a warm, dry, well lit home for all, regardless of income or location.

The objectives of the Campaign are:

i)continuing commitment and action to eradicate all fuel poverty by 2016;

ii)substantially increased capital funding for energy efficiency measures in low income homes;

iii)energy efficiency grants for all energy efficiency measures for all low income homes;

iv)building and environmental health standards for energy efficiency raised to achieve affordable warmth in all homes;

v)no disconnections for households with fuel payment difficulties;

vi)a clear Charter of Rights for all fuel consumers;

vii)heating benefits for households unable to afford adequate warmth;

viii)legal responsibility for fuel suppliers and landlords not to contribute to, or exacerbate, fuel poverty problems;

ix)no taxes or unfair increases on fuel prices that adversely affect low income households.

Conference believes that eradication of fuel poverty is vital to reduce the number of unnecessary winter deaths among older people.

Therefore Conference calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to circulate information on the National Right to Fuel Campaign to retired members sections to promote a wider awareness of fuel poverty problems, issues and solutions.

In addition, Conference calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to provide practical advice for retired members such as that contained in the Department of Health Booklet ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well – Winter Guide.’