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Older people in Swansea face misery as cost-of-living increases, warns local charity

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Older people will face the real possibility of not being able to heat their homes or even afford food, as the cost-of-living crises intensifies, warns a local Swansea charity.

Care & Repair Western Bay support thousands of older homeowners in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and have raised the alarm as many of those they help are “extremely worried”.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Chief Officer, Emma Tweed, said: “We believe that everyone deserves to live independently for as long as possible. Yet, with the cost-of-living rising the situation is becoming desperate. Therefore, as the local elections near, we are calling on local councillors to do everything they can to ensure our older loved ones are not abandoned.”

Latest figures for the city show that it now costs up to £1,021 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 and disabled people, there is support available. Care & Repair Western Bay’s Caseworkers can visit older people at home and provide free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Senior Caseworker, Sandra Davies, 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 also 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.”

In Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, Care & Repair help over 6,500 older people each year, and complete over 6,000 vital repairs and adaptations so that clients can continue to live safely and independently at home.

Last year, these repairs cost nearly £1.8m. Care & Repair is able to help with the cost of works from funding received from Welsh Government, local authority, and other funds, accessed on behalf of their clients.

A major piece of advice being given by Care & Repair to older people is to make sure to claim the benefits you are entitled to.

According to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, over £200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year. Each year, Care & Repair Western Bay help hundreds of older people claim the benefits they are entitled to, raising around £1.2m extra income per year for their clients.

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If you or an older loved one needs repairs, adaptions or help with keeping your home warm, contact 01792 798599 or visit www.careandrepair.org.uk/western-bay.

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