LOCAL leaders are set to come together in a bid to force potentially ‘life-saving’ changes - after it was revealed scores of pensioners who live alone in Barnsley got through winter with no central heating.

Age UK said the Census figures - which show 148 over-65s live in homes with no central heating - are ‘of tremendous concern’ and urged the government to make sure preparations for next winter are better.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: “These figures are of tremendous concern as older people lacking central heating often find it very difficult to stay warm during the winter months with potentially serious consequences for their health and wellbeing.

“Living alone can make this situation worse as it means that one person’s income has to stretch further to cover the fixed costs of heating a home, and it can, in some cases, lead to social isolation, which can have additional negative consequences.

“Expanding central heating access and providing suitable alternatives to keep older people warm will be absolutely key.”

Dozens of so-called ‘warm banks’ opened their doors for cold Barnsley residents to use as temperatures plummeted, with easy-to-access sites such as libraries and churches opening their doors - many of which were in partnership with Barnsley Council.

Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock added: “I know more families than ever are becoming scared of how they will pay their heating bills in the coming months.

“Over the last year, people have already been making sacrifices to their budgets where they can from pensioners cutting down on essentials to parents giving up meals so their children can eat.

“As it stands, the Conservatives have lost control of the economy, and working people are being left to pay the price.”

Debby Bunn, chief executive of Age UK, told the Chronicle elderly residents in Barnsley are being forced to choose between heating their homes or eating.

“These shocking figures clearly demonstrate of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on older people in Barnsley - too many were forced to make the awful choice between heating and eating during the winter.

“Age UK Barnsley are here to help anyone aged 50 and over in Barnsley who might be struggling.

“Whether it is making sure people are getting everything they are entitled to, providing affordable alternatives through our handyperson and gardening service, or running friendly and welcoming social groups through our social inclusion projects, we are here to support you.

“Throughout the winter we have been funded by Barnsley Council’s Household Support Grant to provide winter warmth packs, slow cookers, cleaning and hygiene products and 200 free home checks to support those in greatest need of help.

“Our advisors are available throughout the year so please don’t leave it until it gets cold again to get in touch if you need help.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37bn worth of support.

“This includes £1,200 to help pay their bills and the two-year Energy Price Guarantee, that will save a typical household £1,000 annually.”