Norfolk County Council announces �100,000 boost to help older people get through the winter

Older people in Norfolk have been handed a surprise �100,000 boost to help them get through the winter.

Norfolk County Council's cabinet today agreed to hand the cash to Age UK Norfolk for the charity's warm winter fund.

The one-off grant, which comes from a forecast underspend on the County Hall budget, will be used by Age UK Norfolk to offer small grants of between �100 to �200 to older people struggling to pay fuel bills.

It will also help pay for further work to look at the underlying need for such support as heating bills continue to rise.

County council leader Derrick Murphy said: 'This is one way in which some of Norfolk's most vulnerable residents can directly benefit from the sound management of the council's finances and our continued determination to drive down costs.

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'The winter can be a real struggle for people trying to get by on a pension.

'With heating costs rising year on year, it is harder than ever for older people to keep warm.

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'For some the stark choice is between heating properly or eating properly.

'This grant to Age UK Norfolk complements the county council's Warm

Winter campaign and will allow many more older people to receive help, 'I hope that this will take away some of their worries about the cold months ahead.'

Linda Gill, information and advice development manager at Age UK Norfolk, said the boost had come out of the blue.

She said: 'I couldn't be more delighted. This amount of money will make a real difference to older people in fuel poverty or fuel debt. It's tremendous news.'

The Norfolk Community Foundation, backed by the EDP and sister paper the Norwich Evening News, has launched a Surviving Winter campaign - designed to help elderly and vulnerable people get through the cold spell.

Last year's Surviving Winter appeal raised �55,000 in Norfolk, doubling its original target, meaning grants could be made to 239 households.

Age UK Norfolk has already started receiving calls from people who wish to apply for help this year.

Surviving Winter co-ordinator Jasmine Toombs said: 'Everyone I've spoken to has said they're worried, fuel prices are going up and it's a lot out of their pension.'

To apply for help from the Surviving Winter fund, call Age UK Norfolk on 01603 787111. To apply for assistance from the Warm and Well fund, call the Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623958.

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