Dan Jarvis the MP for Barnsley Central has called for more to be done in supporting the elderly during the cold weather. During a speech to the Age UK Barnsley Annual General Meeting this afternoon, Mr Jarvis highlighted the difficulties many elderly people in the town face as the winter draws in.
Fuel poverty is a serious problem, especially for the elderly. In Barnsley, a shocking 20,400 households are living in fuel poverty, with older people making up over half of this figure. Dan Jarvis wants the Government to do more to support the elderly and halt the pattern of pensioners dying every year, due to the cold.
Speaking to members and supporters of Age UK Barnsley, Dan assured them that he would be joining them in the Age UK national winter campaign. “In 21st Century Britain it is just plain wrong that elderly people are suffering, simply because they cannot keep themselves warm. It is completely unacceptable that we have allowed this social injustice to perpetuate for so long. This is why I am backing Age UK’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ Campaign to bring this issue onto the agenda.”
Studies have found that cold weather and under-heated homes also lead to numerous problems affecting older people, such as increasing the number of falls and exacerbating conditions like arthritis.
As well as raising the issue in parliament, the MP will also be calling on local authorities to join with organisations like Age UK to tackle the issue, by putting systems in place to warn of extreme weather conditions, ensuring council staff are aware of the risk of winter deaths and how they can direct people to appropriate support services.
He also urged everyone to join him in looking out for the elderly members of their community. “We should all be looking out for one another and supporting the elderly in our communities. In Barnsley we have a fine and long-standing tradition of looking out for our neighbours – we are by our very nature, community-minded people,” he said.
“Whether that means helping out with the shopping, changing that hard-to-reach light-bulb or simply providing some company each week, there is something that as individuals, we can all be doing to help make a positive contribution and maybe even save a life.”
“These are the important issues that speak about the kind of society we want to live in. I want to live in a society that values and respects those who are elderly and frail. And I will do what I can to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Speaking about measures already in place, Dan added, “The Winter Fuel Payments that Labour introduced for pensioners does help to mitigate the problem but we need to go further. Every year, elderly people die because of cold weather; I believe that is absolutely appalling and it would be unforgiveable for us to stand by and do nothing to address it.”