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Pensioner: 'I never know which tariff I am on'

A pensioner said he worries about the cost of heating his home because he "never knows which tariff" he will be on, Good Morning Britain has heard.

Owen Ellis, who lives in East London and suffers from respiratory problems, can only afford to heat his home for an hour every day and said his bills were "going up all the time".

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Govt: We made 'clear commitment' to keep OAPs warm

The government has made "a very clear commitment" to keep over-65s warm every winter and 12.5 million would be eligible for between £100-£300 to help pay their fuel bills if there born before July 5 1952.

A Government spokesman said:

Around 12.5m older people are due to receive £2.15bn in help from Winter Fuel Payments this year - part of our very clear commitment to keep British pensioners warm this winter.

What's more a total of £700 million has been paid out to vulnerable people in Cold Weather Payments since 2010 in 28 million separate payments - and this year the Warm Home Discount is providing £310m of extra help to those at risk of fuel poverty.

But we know the way to help people - permanently - is to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat. We are improving the UK's housing to help over 1.3m homes, on top of an investment of over half a billion pounds in energy efficiency.

– A Government Spokesman

Charity: 70% of over-65s 'worried about cost of energy'

Almost three-quarters of over-65s living in the UK are worried about the rising cost of energy, according to an age concern charity.

Research from Age UK showed:

  • One third of over-65s are worried about how they will heat their home in the first place.
  • Some 41% of older people believe the government should do more to ensure UK homes are made more energy efficient.
  • Another 36% want energy companies to intervene and insulate old homes.

3.5 million elderly people 'at risk from winter cold'

Around 3.5 million elderly people are worried they will not be able to keep warm this winter, a charity has warned.

Credit: PA

Age UK pointed to the 25,000 elderly people who die every year from the cold, which they amounts to 206 deaths a day or one death every seven minutes.

Known as "excess winter deaths" many of these could have been prevented if pensioners were in more modern homes, the charity said.

Countries which regularly experienced harsher winters, like Finland, Germany and France had far fewer excess deaths because they have newer houses. The UK has some of the oldest buildings in the EU, Age UK said.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "Fuel poverty is a national scandal which has claimed the lives of too many people - both old and young - for far too long and left many more suffering from preventable illness."

Care minister calls on volunteers to help elderly

Volunteers will have to step in to help neglected elderly people because the state and modern families are unable to cope, a minister has said.

In an age when many older British people are rarely visited by their relatives and live lonely lives "the state can't do it on its own," Norman Lamb, the care and support minister told the Financial Times (£).

Volunteers called on to help the elderly. Credit: PA

He said there was "an overwhelming case" for volunteers to fill the gap left by "the dispersal of the extended family" and called for "a 21st century version of Neighbourhood Watch" to combat isolation.

He insisted he did not see the involvement of volunteers as a cost-cutting option.

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Your views: Internet 'no substitute for closeness'

ITV News readers have responded to calls for the government to tackle loneliness with internet training, with many welcoming the suggestion but others insisting the net is no substitute for contact with people.

Among the comments on our Facebook page:

I use it every day but it [doesn't] fill the gap like human company I'm afraid.

– Helen Dunn

Taught my 74 year old grandad how to use skype and he loves being about to speak to his brother and sister and great grandkids

– Cheryl Liversuch

Yes it would [help] but alot of elderly can't even afford heating and food, let alone a new PC and internet

– Neil Goch

Rantzen: 'Loneliness is alleviated by relationships'

The chronic loneliness some elderly people suffer from can only be relieved by relationships, so if the internet is to help it has "link people to people", Esther Rantzen told Good Morning Britain.

The former TV presenter, who set up a helpline to combat loneliness in the elderly, believed teaching OAPs how to use the internet could help, but warned many felt out of their depth with the technology.

"A lot of the generation that Silver Line works with...are not comfortable with the internet. It frightens them. They think it is a whole new set of skills they have to learn."

Think-tank: 'Vital' everyone has access to internet

The dominance of the internet means it is "vital" everyone has access to the web, the author of a report into loneliness in the elderly has said.

Eddie Copeland, report author for think-tank Policy Exchange, said:

In an increasingly isolated and fast moving world it is vital that everyone in society is able to use the internet and understand its benefits.

From alleviating social isolation, bringing together communities, paying bills and now accessing public services, online can improve lives.

Being able to simply write an email or access a social networking site could provide older people with a way to stay connected to their friends and families, who may live hundreds of miles away.

– Eddie Copeland

Report: 'Tackle loneliness with internet training'

The number of lonely elderly people can be brought down if they are given proper internet training by the Government, a think tank has said.

Some five million OAPs have never used the internet, Policy Exchange found. Credit: PA

Policy Exchange said four out of 10 people aged over 65 did not have internet access at home, but training them how to use software like Skype or instant messenger would only cost £141 per person.

The overall cost of education OAPs in how to use the internet, 6.2 million, would be offset by the "huge" economic and social benefits for the UK, the think-tank said.

Tackling isolation could prove to be one of the most effective strategies for countering the rising costs of caring for an ageing population, the think-tank said.

The initial investment in training would be offset by savings of around £1.7 billion a year as people moved to digital rather than paper-based and telephone transactions, it added.

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