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Ahead of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday 2 December 2022, gas emergency and pipeline, Wales & West Utilities has announced it’s partnering with end of life charity Marie Curie, alongside all other UK Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs), to help support terminally ill people in the UK facing rising energy costs.

The £1.7 million, three-year partnership with Wales & West Utilities, SGN, Cadent and Northern Gas Networks, will enable Marie Curie to recruit two Energy Support Officers to their Information and Support Line. These new roles will provide in-depth information to people on the grants and benefits available to them - helping with rising energy bills, the increasing cost of living, as well as providing general support to families and patients.

Bespoke training will also be provided to Marie Curie staff in the community (Registered Nurses, Healthcare Assistants and Volunteers) so they can identify those struggling to pay their bills, signpost patients to support, and raise awareness of the priority services register.

A YouGov poll*, commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), found that 75% of people were planning to use less heating this winter. [1] Whilst rising energy bills have led to over two thirds of Brits (69%) feeling more worried about their ability to stay warm and healthy at home this winter compared to last winter.

Nigel Winnan, Customer Service & Social Obligations Manager at Wales & West Utilities, welcomes the partnership:

We know that the impacts of the rising costs of living are being felt by everyone and that this winter is going to be tough for so many people. Our priority is always to support our most vulnerable customers and this partnership will further strengthen our work.

We’re delighted to be working with Marie Curie to ensure that, wherever home may be, terminally ill people and their loved ones are kept safe and warm all year round.

Matt Williams Head of Information & Support at Marie Curie said:

Terminally ill people often have energy bills thousands of pounds higher than the average household due to the medical need to stay warm and power medical equipment.

Nobody should have to worry about keeping warm especially when they are facing the end of their lives but a recent poll has shown that 80% of callers to our Support Line are concerned about whether they or their loved one will be able to keep their home warm this winter and 61% think they or their loved one would struggle to pay their energy bills.

Support that already exists for other groups – such as the Winter Fuel Payment for over 65s and the Warm Home Discount for people on a low income – must be extended to dying people.

Living in a cold home can be damaging to your health and wellbeing, so we’re so grateful to Wales & West Utilities, alongside the other UK GDNs, for working with us as we fear that many thousands of people living with terminal illness will be forced into poverty this winter, and many families may see the death of a terminally ill loved one, before their time.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we'll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We'll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.