Nearly everyone has been affected by either snow, ice or both over the past week and its likely to continue. Whilst we all might complain, the vast majority of us have coped by either working from home, stocking up on a de-icer, avoiding icy paths and turning the heating right up. Maybe even getting the old hot water bottle out to heat us up at night.
But what about the most vulnerable within our society, those who are poorly, elderly or physically disabled? What is being done to help them? Carers might not be able to visit them, they may not be able to attend hospital or doctor appointments, meals on wheels might not arrive and most of all, they might not be able to afford extra heating.
Another winter, and another plea for the UK Government to do something once and for all to tackle fuel poverty and ensure that everyone can heat their homes. Yes, some might get cold weather payments but that won't help the majority. And that's still given in cash form, rather than allocated specifically towards heating in the form of vouchers or credit. What we need is a fairer system, in the form of the following:
- Same price fuel for those who pay by direct debit, cash or by token or card. It seems grossly unfair that those who 'pay as they use' gas or electricity pay more than those who pay by direct debit, i.e. those who are usually better off
- Automatic credit towards heating for the most vulnerable within our society in winter - paid upfront rather than in retrospect
- Better plans to cope with snow and ice - and clear pathways.
There's also a duty on all of us to be more considerate in this weather and think about ways we can help neighbours and older relatives, be it offering to go to the shop on their behalf in case they slip, clearing paths, taking meals round etc. It's easy when you're young to take your health and ability to get around for granted so spare a thought for those who aren't as lucky.