With fuel prices rising and the Covid-19 pandemic still impacting on people’s lives, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) has launched the Surviving Winter campaign to help tackle fuel poverty for older people struggling to keep warm during the coldest months. Families, individuals and businesses wishing to help can make a donation here.

It is extremely challenging for people living within limited financial means to afford rising fuel bills and top-ups for their prepayment meters. Many find themselves in the difficult situation of choosing to either keep warm or buy food. Recent government statistics indicate that 8,500 people died across England and Wales last winter due to cold homes.

As well as raising funds from the general public, the Surviving Winter Campaign asks those in receipt of the Government’s Annual Winter Fuel Payment to donate their payment, if they are in a position to be able to do so, to help those needing help to keep warm across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

In the past five years, the HIWCF Surviving Winter Campaign has raised over £38,000 to support local people, and since the campaign began ten years ago, grants have supported 488 vulnerable people and families across the region.

HIWCF partners with Citizens Advice Hampshire and The Footprint Trust Isle of Wight to award the Surviving Winter grants, which help vulnerable people to stay warm, eat well and remain mobile, including practical assistance with travel to medical appointments and support with shopping for essential medication and groceries.

Last winter, as Covid-19 cases and deaths reached their highest peak, Citizens Advice Hampshire were able to support 56 local families with food, heat, arrears and clothing thanks to donations made to the Surviving Winter Campaign.

One of these grants supported a lady bringing up her grandchildren, following the death of her son from a brain tumour. The lady is in receipt of the state pension, and Citizens Advice were able to provide a Surviving Winter grant and also offer advice on submitting an application for a pension credit, helping to make things a little easier for the family.

Jo Hillier, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice Hampshire said “Citizens Advice Hampshire are pleased to be working with HIWCF to ensure the Surviving Winter Fund reaches Hampshire and Isle of Wight elderly residents that need it the most this winter. We are particularly concerned about elderly people on the lowest incomes who will be hit by a double whammy of financial hardship: rising energy costs and a higher cost of living due to inflation. The Surviving Winter fund will enable us to offer quick and direct help to those affected.”

 Jacqui Scott, HIWCF Chief Executive said: “The Surviving Winter Campaign relies on generous donations from the public, where we also ask residents in our communities to either recycle their Government Winter Fuel Payment if they are able to do so, or make a much needed donation to support the campaign. It is shocking to think that people may die in the UK because they cannot afford to heat their homes and with National Energy Action warning that the average price increases for prepayment customers and for those paying by direct debit using a default tariff is likely to result in higher utility debt, 500,000 extra households in fuel poverty and an increase in preventable deaths this winter it is vital that we support vulnerable local people struggling with fuel poverty this winter.”

HIWCF can accept cheque donations for the Surviving Winter campaign, please post to: The Chief Executive, Surviving Winter Campaign, HIWCF, The Orchard, White Hart Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 4AF, (cheque payable to Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation). Taxpayers donating by cheque may also wish to increase their donation, if eligible, by completing a Gift Aid Form, available on the HIWCF website: www.hiwcf.com/gift-aid-declaration-online-form/

For more information on applying for a Surviving Winter grant, please visit Citizens Advice Hampshire’s website on www.citahants.org. Residents on the Isle of Wight can contact The Footprint Trust by email on info@footprint-trust.co.uk


About the Surviving Winter Campaign

Surviving Winter was first launched in 2011. The original objective behind Surviving Winter was to encourage those in receipt of a Winter Fuel Payment from the government to donate this, if they were able, to support older and vulnerable people less fortunate than themselves. Since then the difficult economic environment has meant that more vulnerable people are in need of help and we have diversified the Surviving Winter campaign to meet that change to include general donations from the public.


Excess Winter Deaths – Office for National Statistics

In the 2019 to 2020 winter period there were 28,300 excess winter deaths in England and Wales, an increase of 5,100 (19.6%) compared to excess winter deaths in 2018-2019. It is believed that 8,500 people died in England and Wales last winter due to cold homes.

Excess Winter Deaths calculate figures by defining the winter period as December 2019 to March 2020, and comparing the number of deaths that occurred in this winter period with the average number of deaths occurring in the preceding August to November 2019 and the following April to July 2020.

Public Health England (PHE) has warned there is a damaging overlap between the health impacts of living in a cold home and Covid-19. Pre-existing chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and heart disease are particularly badly affected by a cold home.

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) warns that the average increase of £153 for prepayment customers and £139 for those paying by direct debit using a default tariff is likely to result in more utility debt, 500,000 extra households in fuel poverty and an increase in preventable deaths this winter. NEA has also stressed that one of the key reasons the situation is bleak for the poorest households is the vicious overlap between the households who live on the lowest incomes and who also live in the least energy efficient homes. They say in England alone, more than 680,000 households on the lowest incomes also live in the least efficient homes making the impact of the price rises much more severe. Over 3 million fuel poor households will need to be prioritised for retrofits if the goal to meet Net Zero is to be met at the same time as statutory fuel poverty targets.

The Guardian Newspaper, 1st October 2021: A higher energy bills cap came into force from 1 October, with about 15m households facing a 12% rise in energy bills. Those on standard tariffs, with typical household levels of energy use, could see an increase of £139 – from £1,138 to £1,277 a year while households with larger than average energy use would pay more than £1,277 a year.

The York University research showed there are currently just over 2.5m households in fuel poverty, a situation where more than 10% of net income is spent on energy bills. Based on an estimate of a cumulative 15% increase in gas and electricity bills over the next year, the study said the number of households in fuel poverty would rise to just under 3.5m.