Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Momentum

Hello There My Friends,

I hope youre well and enjoying your return to work !

I would like to draw your attention to the campaign being headed up by a gentleman in the UK who is terminally ill having being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and who was informed by his doctors recently that the chemo is no longer combatting the spread of the disease in his case. Rick Costello (this is a sudonym to protect his real identity) has around 4 - 6 months of his life left.

In a breathtakingly selfless fashion, Rick is campaigning for those who suffer from long term or terminal illness, regardless of their age, to have access to the Winter fuel allowance that is currently only available to people who are aged 60 years or over.

Rick has lobbied the Government and met with several MPs yesterday including the Work & Pensions Minister Anne McGuire to discuss his proposal. Rick's campaign is being supported by the BBC and BBC Breakfast's reporter Julia George has been talking to Rick and following his plight.

The way in which Rick puts across his point is very clear and deserves much support and I truly hope that all my visitors will get behind his campaign and lobby their own MPs and Councillors as well as central Government to push this through before Rick is no longer with us. Please please help and do it now !

Rick is obviously a very articulate individual and his quotes made me feel very humble:

"Chemo makes you feel cold so in the winter I have the heating on full"

"In the 65th anniversary of the Welfare State, there is something wrong when we have thousands of familes receiving no support. The system is out of kilter, out of balance"

"You face immense pressure, trauma - overwhelming emotions"

"People face a loss of income. The patient and also their partners who become carers then face a minefield of benefit forms"

"I am campaigning for people with illness to get help paying their bills"

Rick mentions during his interview with Jules Botfield that he has had support from McMillan's Charitable fund for a heating grant to help to pay his home fuel bills. However as we can imagine, this may not cover the whole cost and more poignantly I assume there is only a finite amount of funding to be allocated?

Jules did a brief follow up report earlier this morning and it showed Rick speaking to Menzies Campbell (himself a cancer survivor) and Anne McGuire.

Rick commented "They wouldnt commit but I feel this thing has momentum".

Indeed his local MP Nick Palmer has put forward an idea that the age threshold for the allowance should be raised from 60 to 65. That perhaps may release some money - however this solution may mean that people aged 60-64 wont get access to the fuel allowance and it could mean that some householders thereafter could be more vulnerable without the £200? This is unless we can persuade the utilities to reduce our fuel costs to reflect the reduction in wholesale gas rates ?!!

I hope that Rick gets all the support (and more) that his proposal deserves - indeed his comment that people like Sir Cliff Richard automatically qualify for the Winter fuel allowance under the current rules makes a mockery of the whole system.

It reminds me of a comment that John Cox from Millfold made at the NEA Conference last September whilst addressing a question to Ian Pearson MP about the qualifying criteria for the allowance - but John sited Keith Richards and Mick Jagger!

As you can probably appreciate Ian Pearson MP, who is more recently (in)famous for picking a fight with Michael O'Leary CEO of Ryanair about airline CO2 emissions (and I'm delighted to say losing the argument) found a suitably all around the houses response that lacked any substance.

Let's hope that Ann McGuire isnt from the same charm school as Mr Pearson and she actually Makes Good Choices!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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