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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 06:10 GMT
Poverty 'killing' elderly
Old woman in hospital
Poverty is leading to increased ill health
More than two thousand elderly people are dying unnecessarily in Scotland because of poverty, according to a charity.

Age Concern Scotland said its new booklet revealed the shocking conditions in which many older people have been forced to live.

The voluntary organisation said that many elderly people have been placed in peril because they cannot afford to buy fuel.

It said that 8,000 of those aged over 60 live in unfit housing which would otherwise be condemned.

More than a fifth of Scotland's population has been estimated to be of pensionable age.

Old man sitting at fire
Some are unaware of available benefits
Age Concern said more older people die as a result of cold in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.

It also said that many elderly people were not aware of what benefits they were entitled to.

Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in November that the winter fuel allowance was to be increased from 150 to 200.

The Scottish Executive has also announced a scheme to pay for central heating for pensioners and pledged to fund free nursing care for all the elderly people in Scotland.

The 100m nursing care package announced by Health Minister Susan Deacon also included provision for personal care, although that would be means tested.

Maureen O'Neill, director of Age Concern Scotland, said: "It (the booklet) points up the key areas of concern that both statutory and voluntary agencies need to tackle.

Fundraising campaign

"What we want to do is emphasise why it is important to invest in older people now and why it is important, not just for older people now, but for all of us, to get this right.

"8,000 homes occupied by older people have been shown to be unfit for human occupation.

"These are serious things and we know there is a commitment to try and change it and what Age Concern's job is to ensure that we see how it is implemented and what difference it is actually making."

Age Concern Scotland has pledged to launch a campaign to raise 1m so that it can carry on providing support for older people.

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See also:

19 Nov 00 | Scotland
Report backs free OAP care
08 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Brown acts on fuel and pensions
06 Oct 00 | Scotland
Elderly care plans under fire
01 Oct 00 | Scotland
100m elderly care plan
18 Sep 00 | Scotland
Fuel poverty pledge to elderly
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