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It is hard not to imagine Iain Duncan Smith salivating at the thought that 200 pensioners a day might die of the cold this winter.
Pensions are the most expensive part of the State benefit bill, taking up more than half of his budget. With the state pension at £110.15, he stands to save £137,467,200 per year, without having to lift a finger. The energy companies will get the blame, with soaring bills making it impossible for senior citizens to heat their homes.
This is a much better deal, even than the one he engineered with Employment and Support Allowance, in which at least 73 people have been dying every week because of poverty-related health or mental health problems brought on by DWP decisions, ; people on ESA for longer than 13 weeks get £100.15 per week, meaning a saving of only £380,169.40 per year.
Make no mistake – any pensioners who die will be counted as a “positive benefit outcome” in Smith’s twisted DWP world. The man himself has been described as a social Darwinist, meaning he expects natural selection to decide who lives. Survival of the fittest, the ones who make the smart decisions and do what they must – and the Devil take the hindmost.
The figures on pensioners come from a survey by Age UK that says more than three million older people are worried about winter heating, with nearly six million admitting fears about the rising price of energy.
“Cold temperatures can be very dangerous to older people’s health as they not only increase the likelihood and severity of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems but they also raise blood pressure which puts people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes,” the Age UK article states.
“This winter, 24,000 older people may not survive the cold weather – that’s 200 deaths a day that could be prevented. Contrary to public belief, about half (41 per cent) of all excess winter deaths are due to heart attack and strokes.
“Age UK’s new research reveals that whilst many older people are worried about staying warm at home, many are unaware of the severe health implications of being cold.
“Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of older people don’t realise that a number of serious health problems are made worse or brought on by the cold and this rose to 29 per cent amongst people aged 80 and over.”
Does Iain Duncan Smith know that?
“Less than one in 10 people aged 65 and over in the UK are aware that strokes can be brought on by the cold in winter, with only 14 per cent recognising that the cold can impact on heart attacks,” the article continues, so it is doubtful that he does. Iain Duncan Smith is 59.
Does he know that “living room temperatures should ideally be kept at 70F (21C) and above whereas bedroom temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 64F (18C)”? Probably not. He’s probably got someone to work these things out for him.
Besides urging older people and their friends and family to be prepared this winter, Age UK is also calling on MPs of all parties to support investment to boost the energy efficiency of older people’s homes and help them keep warm.
It would be welcome to see Iain Duncan Smith helping out here. It would also be a surprise.
That is why it is hard not to imagine Iain Duncan Smith salivating at the thought that 200 pensioners a day might die of the cold this winter.