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Welsh Government urged to support dying people struggling with cold homes

29 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Photo by Katrina_S from Pixabay

Stephen Price

An end of life charity is urging the Welsh Government to act to ensure people with a terminal illness are included in a programme which supports people to make their homes warmer.

Marie Curie has called on the Welsh Government to add people with a condition they are likely to die from to the Warm Homes Programme eligibility criteria – as only people with a respiratory or mental health condition are currently considered.

Earlier this month, Leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, asked the First Minister whether this would happen, and was told conversations with Marie Curie were ongoing.

Ahead of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on 30 November, the charity submitted an open letter, signed by more than 1700 people across Wales to the Climate Minister Julie James MS.

A Marie Curie supporter in Wales who cared for her late partner at home, said: “He was absolutely petrified at the end because he knew we had a £500 gas and electric debt. He was constantly cold. We were buying blankets. He’d be there with the duvet on, blanket on top, the heater was on. But he was really worried about leaving me a debt. I definitely think the criteria for the Warm Homes Programme should be changed.”

She added: “If you’ve got a terminal illness, and your house needs insulation, or it need to be topped up, I think you should be getting it. Whatever it takes to help ease things. I found it hard to get help when he was alive and will support anything that stops families worrying about energy debt.”

While the charity is aware this scheme won’t “fix everything” – with many levers to tackle poverty at the end of life sitting with the UK Government – it insists it is still an important piece of the puzzle, and says inclusion of people living with a terminal illness would show the Welsh Government’s commitment to supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Marie Curie Cymru Associate Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Jon Antoniazzi, said: “It is deeply worrying that people at the end of life continue to be overlooked for support from the Welsh Government’s new Warm Homes Programme.”

He added: “At Marie Curie, we have repeatedly called on the Welsh Government to include terminal illness within the health eligibility criteria for the new Warm Homes programme. The current criteria risks creating a two-tier system for people diagnosed with a terminal illness. While some health conditions do qualify, someone with a disease such as motor neurone disease or cancer doesn’t and should not find it more difficult to access support, especially when they are at the end of life.”

Urging the Welsh Government to act now to support people at perhaps the most challenging time in their lives, he said: “People living with terminal illnesses are some of the most vulnerable to the health and wellbeing impacts of living in cold homes.”

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