Local Welsh Elections: Older People Must Not be Left Behind
Welsh voters have gone to the polls to choose their local councillors. Those who are voted in will run our local authorities and make important decisions on social services.
Care & Repair Cymru is calling on local councillors to ensure that our older loved ones are not left behind. Older people in Wales face the real possibility of not being able to heat their homes or even afford food, as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies.
Care & Repair Cymru CEO, Chris Jones, said:
“Older people in Wales deserve to be able to live independently and safely in their own home. Yet, the cost-of-living crisis is forcing some to not use their heating, avoid turning on lights, and to cut back on some essentials. Therefore, we are urging candidates in this week’s local elections, to do everything they can to ensure our older loved ones are not left behind.”
Latest figures for Wales show that, in some counties, it now costs over £1,500 every year on average to heat our homes. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, 18% of our over 65’s were already in poverty. With few options to offset this increase in cost, it is older people who will struggle the most with the sudden rise in bills.
With the cost-of-living so high, many will turn off their heating altogether, yet evidence shows that living in a cold home worsens health conditions associated with later life, such as Alzheimer’s and respiratory conditions.
Rising costs of materials are making repairs harder, and some households have put off repairs for several years because of Covid. The condition of a property impacts on the well-being of those who live there, with a cold and damp house likely to cause significant health issues.
For vulnerable older people, there is support available. Care & Repair Caseworkers can visit older people at home and provide free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements.
Sandra Davies, Senior Caseworker at Care & Repair Wester Bay, said:
“Many of my clients are extremely worried about the energy prices and the cost of living. Even my own 85-year- old father has cut right down on putting the heating on and will have an extra jacket and blanket on in the house due to the price increases.
“A lot of clients are still fearful of going out due to Covid. One couple I met today have not been anywhere in the last two years and feel that their mobility and mental health have suffered.”
Sarah Penny, Home Energy Officer at Care & Repair Cardiff and The Vale, said:
“With cost-of-living rising as well as energy bills, our clients are looking for ways to reduce their living costs, which may include turning down their thermostats or in some cases, turning off their heating! Clients are terrified they’re not going to be able to keep warm next winter. As I can’t influence rising costs, I try to help in other ways – making sure clients are claiming all the benefits they’re entitled to and encouraging them to buy their gas and electricity from one supplier, paying by Direct Debit and checking they’re on their supplier’s cheapest tariff, to make some saving – every little helps.”
Claire Williams, Newport Care & Repair Caseworker, said:
“The need for our services is rising every year. Clients are very anxious about spiralling living costs, and some face choices about heating their home or eating properly. Care and Repair help them navigate complex situations by providing holistic support, not just addressing the presenting problem. We help them live safely, independently, and happily in their own homes.”
Notes to Editors
Poverty rates in Wales:
Cost of fuel bill using EPC March 2022 data, uplifted by 54% to reflect price cap:
About Care & Repair Cymru
Care & Repair Cymru and the 13 Care & Repair Agencies across Wales, support over 50,000 older people every year. We believe that no older person should live in cold, unsafe housing. We carry out thousands of home adaptations and repairs for older people, keeping them safe from accidents or helping in discharging them from hospital.
Working in partnership with the NHS and local authorities, we identify older people most at risk, and then step in to prevent their increasing dependency on the NHS and social care services. Care & Repair champion the housing needs of older people living in owner occupied and private rented housing. We do this by providing expertise, advocacy and evidence to support investment that ensures all older people in Wales can live independently and safely at home.
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