Older people in Sefton are having to make the decision to heat o

Phil Morgan, Arthur and June Wood, Jan Flynn, Pauline Leyland and Joan Flynn are among some of the older people who have told how pensioners in Sefton are struggling to make ends meet.


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson heard for himself this week from pensioners from this area how many of the constituency's older residents are being forced to make the decision to heat or to eat.
Bill met with some older members of the constituency to hear how Tory-Lib Dem government cuts are affecting them and their friends.
He said what he heard "shocked and concerned" him.
Pauline Leyland, 76, told Bill that one of the primary concerns for older people she spoke to was the rocketing cost of keeping the house warm.
She said: "The price of heating our homes now means that lots of people simply don't.
"One lady I spoke to told me that she doesn't buy fresh food in the winter because she just uses a microwave to cook so she can save money on her energy bills.
"We all feel the cold a lot more in later years, so it's particularly worrying that people aren't heating up their homes because of the cost. Someone else told me she dresses in her night gown and wraps herself in a blanket to keep warm at home instead of turning on the heating."
Joan Flynn, 71, said many older people were being forced to turn to loan sharks to make ends meet.
She said: "It's getting so expensive just to live now that more and more people are having to turn to loan sharks just to get by. They've got no option.
"Then they find themselves in the vicious circle of debt which makes it worse.
"But when they can't afford to turn on the heating, or pay for the next meal, what other option have they got?
"Winter fuel allowance was reduced from £250 to £150. It just doesn't go far enough for many people."
June Wood, 76, said changes to bus services as transport funding is slashed is having a huge impact on many older people's lives.
June said: "Many older people rely on the same local bus to get about.
"But because of the way the bus services are changing because there's less money to subsidise services, there are fewer buses, meaning that people are feeling more isolated, which is a real issue for older people who may already live alone.
"And very often, bread in the local corner shop is a lot more expensive than in the supermarket. But if you can't get to the supermarket then you are even more worse off again."
Joan Spencer, who is in her 70s, said new Tory-Lib Dem government taxes, such as the bedroom tax and the granny tax, was forcing older people out of their homes and below the poverty line.
Joan said: "These new taxes are hitting pensioners hard.
"For instance the bedroom tax is aimed at hurting people who live in social or council housing. People who have lived in council properties all their lives, where they have raised their families, where they may have been raised themselves, are being forced out of their homes because of the new bedroom tax. 
"For each spare bedroom people have, they have to pay a tax. That is forcing people out of their family home, which is very upsetting for anyone, but particularly for old people. Older people need stability, instead this government is causing them upset and distress.
"They are being thrown out of their homes which adds to the feeling of loneliness and isolation which many older people already feel. They are being kicked out of their homes and dumped into communities which they are not familiar with."
Arthur Wood, 82, said even the fact that many older people are not computer-savvy means they are losing money.
Arthur said. "I don't have a computer - I wouldn't know how to use one. Many older people are just like me.
"But because of that we are penalised. Because I can't pay via the internet means that I have to pay more. It also means that I can't go on u-switch like they are all advising now in order to get my household bills down.
"Again it's hurting older people, and the nine-million people in this country who don't have the internet the hardest."
Phil Morgan, 72, volunteers his time in his local churches' foodbank at Formby Methodist and Formby Christian Fellowship.
Phil said: "I help with my church's food bank. We are seeing more and more people needing help.
"We parcel up food which has been donated by parishioners and deliver them to needy people in our community.
"People I speak to tell me it really is a case of heat or eat. Many people can't afford both and that's a daily struggle lots of people are having.
"Delays in the benefits system mean that people aren't being able to make ends meet. The changes in the benefits system is a real concern for lots of people."
Arthur Wood even said cuts to the fire service is having an impact on older people.
Arthur said: "My fire alarm went recently, so I contacted the fire service who told me that where as once they were free for pensioners, there is now a charge.
"They want £24 for two. That's a lot of money for older people who are already struggling. The fire service told me that it was because of the government cuts to the fire service budget.
"That is a real concern for me because it is older people who are susceptible to leaving on a fire, or leaving a pan on the cooker. We could see older people being killed in their own homes because of these cuts."
Bill Esterson said he was appalled at what he heard.
Bill said: "What older people in this country and indeed this very constituency are going through is appalling. This is the 21st Century, but what our older people are going through to just survive sounds like it comes direct from the pages of a Dickens novel.
"We are the seventh richest country in the world, yet we are forcing our older generation to make the nightly choice of eating or putting the heating on.
"The Tory-Lib Dem cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in our communities. They are forcing our pensioners, people on low and middle income to pay for the mistakes of the bankers while they are giving millionaires tax cuts. It is repugnant.
"Pensioners are freezing at home. They fear they'll lose their free travel passes. Our libraries are under threat because of the cuts to local authorities. And pensioners are struggling to cope with the increasing cost of food.
"Meanwhile the government hits pensioners with a granny tax which sees the average pensioner £450 worse off to pay for a tax cut for millionaires.
"This is Britain under a Tory-Lib Dem government."

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