Almost 200 people aged over 65 and living alone in South Hams have no central heating, analysis shows.
Age UK said the figures are ‘of tremendous concern’ and urged the Government to ‘make sure that it is prepared for next winter’.
According to analysis of census 2021 data by the PA news agency, 6,795 people over the age of 65 lived alone in South Hams – making up 27.7% of the age group.
Of the elderly people living alone, 186 (2.7%) did not have central heating.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at older people’s charity Age UK said having limited money in later life impacts day-to-day living and exacerbates feelings of loneliness and disconnection from society.
Ms Abrahams said: “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.”
She called on the Government to ensure it is prepared for next winter. “Expanding central heating access and providing suitable alternatives to keep older people warm will be absolutely key,” she said.
Across England and Wales, about 3.1 million elderly people lived alone when the census took place in March 2021. Of them, 66,000 (2.1%) had no central heating.
There was disparity across areas of the two nations with the highest proportion of older people living alone and without central heating found in Barrow in the North West (5.4%), Gwynedd in Wales (4.6%) and Portsmouth in the South East (4.5%).
In contrast, County Durham, North East Derbyshire, and Hart were the three areas with the lowest proportion – all at 0.7%.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, said the figures are “deeply concerning”.
Mr Miliband said: “No person in Britain should have to live in a cold home, and it is a disgrace that this is happening under Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives.”
He added Labour would launch a national Warm Homes Plan to upgrade home that needs it, so families can have “the warmth they need and cheaper energy bills”.
A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We know this is a difficult time for families, including older people, which is why we’ve been covering around half of the typical household’s energy bill.”
They said improving the energy efficiency of homes is the best long-term method of tackling fuel poverty.
“That’s why we’ve committed over £6.6 billion in this parliament to improve energy efficiency and, in addition, last month we announced the new expanded Great British Insulation Scheme to deliver even more upgrades,” they added.
Age UK said anyone who is struggling, or their concerned families and friends, can contact its free Age UK advice line on 0800 169 65 65 which is open every day from 8am until 7pm.