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Commissioner sets out 5-point Action Plan to ensure older people are not left behind as living costs spiral

in News

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has joined forces with key organisations concerned about the impact of rapidly rising living costs to publish a 5-point Plan which sets out the action the Welsh Government must take to ensure that older people surviving on the lowest incomes have the support they need this winter and next, so that no-one is left behind as Wales faces the cost-of-living crisis.

The Commissioner has developed the 5-Point Action with support from organisations including Age Cymru, The Bevan Foundation, Care & Repair Cymru, Citizens Advice Cymru, National Energy Action Cymru and Oxfam Cymru.

Publishing the plan, the Commissioner has warned that the Welsh Government’s decision to continue to exclude older people in receipt of Pension Credit from its Winter Fuel Support Scheme risks exacerbating existing inequalities and putting the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable older people in Wales at risk.

The 5-point plan calls for the following action from the Welsh Government:

  • Extend the eligibility criteria for the Winter Fuel Support Scheme to older people claiming Pension Credit, and extend the deadline for the current scheme to enable people to claim as soon as possible.
  • Maintain this eligibility for the second payment due later this year, and ensure that this payment is made ahead of the winter to save households having to ration their energy use.
  • Publish a plan to increase the take-up of Pension Credit, which outlines key targets to meet. The action should include a communications campaign targeted specifically at older people, and support for local organisations to support older people to claim what they are entitled to.
  • Raise awareness of the Discretionary Assistance Fund to ensure that older people know how they can claim, simplify and widen the eligibility criteria to support more households, and publish data on take-up so that we can understand who is claiming and who needs to be targeted to raise awareness.
  • Develop an action plan for winter 2022-23 to tackle the wider determinants of fuel poverty, including expanding programmes to improve the energy efficiency of older people’s homes and ensuring that appropriate support and advice is prepared ahead of expected further increases in costs.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:

“I am extremely disappointed that despite my calls, calls from a growing number of other expert organisations, and clear evidence about the scale of poverty amongst older people and impact this has on people’s lives the Welsh Government continues to exclude older people who receive Pension Credit from its Winter Fuel Support Scheme.

“The Welsh Government is already beginning to consider the support that will be needed next winter, but appears to be ignoring the desperate situation many older people are facing this winter and the impact this will have in the weeks and months ahead.

“That is why I am calling on the Welsh Government to implement the 5-point Action Plan I have developed with the support of other key organisations to ensure older people can access the financial support they need – both through the Winter Fuel Support Scheme and the Discretionary Assistance Fund – and are receiving the financial benefits they are entitled to, such as Pension Credit.

“If the Welsh Government fails to take this action, many older people will be left behind as Wales faces the cost-of-living crisis and the health and well-being of tens of thousands of older people on the lowest incomes, who may be particularly vulnerable and least able to deal with spiralling living costs, will be put at significant risk, something that quite simply is not acceptable.”


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