Burning books for warmth

Letter: I recently read that pensioners are buying secondhand hardback books to burn in their fires.

338037420_b740ce3bf4Letter: I recently read that pensioners are buying secondhand hardback books to burn in their fires and stoves.

Librarians must be biting their finger nails down to the quick at the thought of all this book burning. But is it surprising when a 20kg bag of coal can cost £5, with gas bills and electricity prices rising 40 per cent and 20 per cent respectively since the beginning of 2008? I am informed that a hardback book can sell for as little as 5p.

In parallel to all this, the Government tells us it intends to spend billions of our money on offshore windfarms – now that should truly give everyone a warm glow – welcome to the 21st century.

Dave Haskell


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Comments for: "Burning books for warmth"

Andrew finch

I actually question the origins of the story with regards burning books to keep warm. OAP £200 per household winter fuel allowance should cover all if not 99% of the heating bill.

H. St. John Peasbody

Pensioners are the richest group in society.

Suellan Fowler

Whilst I agree with your questioning the origins of the story Mr. Finch (where on earth can you buy a secondhand hardback book for 5p?) it is predicted that due to the cold snap and the need to have heating on 24 hours for 7-10 days recently, most winter bills are expected to be substantially more than £200 for the season.


"OAP £200 per household winter fuel allowance should cover all if not 99% of the heating bill".

I have never heard anything so daft in all my life. My monthly direct debit to Scottish and Southern Energy (Atlantic) is £120 for gas and £60 for electricity - YES, MONTHLY. Please tell me how £200 PER YEAR pays all or 99% of this. I am a pensioner, so is my wife. We have just had to change our Central Heating boiler and having to wait a week with no heating or mains hot water whilst Transco laid a new pipe from the mains in the pavement to the meter in our garage to improve the pressure. During this week we were reduced to using electric fan heaters pushing our electricity bill to the heavens. I paid my taxes and National Insurance for the whole of my life without a day of unemployment, neither have either of us claimed a benefit in our lives, this government gives me nothing and with their means testing it means those pensioners just above the "cut - off" point are really struggling. I thank them for nothing and look forward to the day when they are really kicked into touch and oblivion. To those pensioners who are on benefits and have to struggle with ever increasing fuel bills, you have my sympathy. Pensioners have never been well treated and it goes to show the depths that this country has sunk to when they have to burn books to keep warm.

Andrew finch

Stuart clearly you need to change supplier . It is a winter fuel payment and it is to cover the coldest days weeks not the entire year or quarter and is a helping hand via the guv. And it is a tad bit better than what the pensioners used to be given remind me was it a tenner after so many days ? .As for the books story, silly rubbish.

Winter bills on occasion will be high but not always , not all pensioners are on skid row either , As for stuart replacing his boiler yes we all have to do that on occasion etc and pay for it but i do not believe people on benefits get that paid for them either . A person renting would get the landlord to pay but it is his property . As for the heating being on for 24 hours if the timer is set correctly and people confine themselves to 2-3 rooms it should not be a problem plus good home insulation etc.


Stuart, whilst I sympathise with your problems over the boiler, it was this Govt that gave you the winter fuel allowance every year, not the Tories. And I believe that for older pensioners the allowance is even higher?

It might not cover the fuel spent but at least its a help that you didn't have before, and ought to be acknowledged.

don hall

very sad, not facists, just poor old people in fuel poverty, people need to get insulation, loft, walls, doors and windows all can be treated to save you money and keep you warm, contact the council for details, its very cheap now and free for the elderly and unemployed

John Smith

Bus and rail passes for the over 65's free TV license for the over 75's over 80 and a British citizen? Then you qualify for a free passport too. Pensioner couple over 80 £200 a week pension too. (married couple under 60 on benefits get far less)

Heating allowances... Anyone aged 60 to 79 and who lives alone, or is the only person in the house that qualifies, gets £250

Those living alone aged 80 or over on September 27 get £400.

If you are 60 to 79 and live with another qualifying individual, you get £125 each. If one of you is 80 or more, they receive £275.

If there are two of you aged 80 or over you each get £200.

Now although this may not pay an entire winters bill, it will certainly go a long long way to help out. Those that live on benefits get a paltry £25 and that is only IF the temp stays down at 0c or below for an entire week, if the temp rises for one day...you dip out and get nothing and yet they reckon that pensioners are hard up and having to burn books to stay warm? I think perhaps this is greatly exaggerated!

Mr grumpy

Stuart how big is your house? £120 per month on gas.

wait till the other lot get in then goodbye to your £200 yearly winter fuel allowance.

pensioners like you give the rest of us a bad name moaning all the time get a life


@Andrew finch: please share the details of you gas supplier. £200 is much much cheaper than mine!!!

Colin Urqu

H. St. John Peasbody said:

Pensioners are the richest group in society.

You have obviously not lost your pension in the scams that resulted from Gordon brown plundering the kitty.

Andrew finch said:

"I actually question the origins of the story with regards burning books to keep warm. OAP £200 per household winter fuel allowance should cover all if not 99% of the heating bill."

You sir obviously are under the illusion that every pensioner lives in a perfect house with optimal insulation and the latest in heating systems.

I can assure you that many do not.

What twaddle, the pair of you need to have more contact with the rest of the population.

solider tim

that is a sad indictment of the uk governments failure on fuel poverty (as well a a waste of a good book which could have been donated to Oxfam)

dean green

whycant we do a scheme for old people with open fires to get free off cuts of wood from buildings sites and the like , it would be very "green" turning waste to energy and help them with a "free" or low cost heat source, also old newspapers and such could be collected and used to make fuel logs


I feel almost guilty for only paying Southern Electric £40 a month for heating and electricity! I guess it's all about having a smaller home. I'm also very conscious of turning everything off, but I can't imagine that saves more than a few pennies in the big scheme of things.


I think Dave Haskell is writing about pensioners who aren't rich HP,not some retired millionaire.

I suggest they start burning a book like "Bonfire of the Vanities"they might get their money's worth very quickly.


Now there's a good idea for a discussion: Which book would you burn to keep warm and why?


Stuart, I have in the past treated some of your offerings with disdain! .. but not this time! .. you are spot on with your rehtoric about the way "Pensioners in the UK are treated! .. I too am a pensioner but because I choose to live in a Commonwealth Country my meagre British Pension which I contributed to in my working life in the UK is Frozen! .. like you I have never made any demands on the social Infrastructure of the UK and neither have any of my Dependants! .. I wore the British Uniform for five years! .. two of which I spent in harms way and yet the Pension which I am entitled to and not handed without subscrption is not indexed which means I face a rising cost of living with a depleting income. It matters not which spectrum of politics is in power we who gave so much in the past are to be considered inconsequential in the future.

H. St. John Peasbody

Mark (no. 17) raises an interesting issue - which books should be burnt to keep warm and why?

I'd burn the Bible and the Qur'an: both are at the heart of the majority of trouble in this world. Therefore they're the most pointless books.


Any or all books, I never read books just Magazines and junk mail. Actually, junk mail is free, perhaps we could let OAP's have the recycled paper that is collected to burn - it would save so much.


an autobiography by any C list celebrity, jordon etc


Mr Grumpy said:- "pensioners like you give the rest of us a bad name moaning all the time get a life".

I wasn't really moaning in the sense that you imply, I was responding to Andrew Finch who continues the rubbish regarding pensioners etc. As for yourself Mr Grumpy, your politics define who and what you really are. If I were to steryotype you I would say that you are the typical Andy Cap, pensioner Labourite, possibly picking up a healthy load of benefits, thankful for the crumbs thrown at you from the table of the condecending Labour government hypocrits.

You be content with your lot, be thankful for it and follow your Labourite gang to it's ultimate oblivion.

I don't wear a cloth cap, retired from a menial manual job, smoke Woodbines and have a pint of bitter in the local and go home to my rented house at the end of it. My existence and aspiration even now are slightly above what Labour has given in the past and promises in the future. I repeat, Labour has given means tested pensioners nothing which they have not more than contributed to. You are obviously not means tested - lucky you.

Rob, Telford

Mark said:

"Now there’s a good idea for a discussion: Which book would you burn to keep warm and why?"

"Royalty and I - a Golden Treasury of Reverent Recollections of a Royal Correspondent" by Shirley Tart, published by Lick, Slurp & Grovel.


Books and other items suitable for burning can often be purchased at the local car boot sales, particularly at the end of the day when stuff is going to be thrown away. 5p each is about the going rate

My brother used to "purchase" books for his second hand bookstore in this manner and often would get a box full for nothing. Diabolical that books should be burnt. Old shoes, old carpet and even old bits of broken furniture are quite usefull for burning. Also do not forget that peat can also be burned quite successfully if you are fit enough to dig it for yourself. Seems ridiculous to be in such poverty after years of contribution and full employment. For many poverty is not just to do with age but is also to do with whether you can be treated as a soft target by the powers that be without accusations of racism, sexism etc etc. Try asking the person on the other end of the phone ", why are you treating me like this. Is this some sort of racism or is it because of my religion?" You will see a change of attitude straight away. I even used to use the offcuts of perspex from a sign making company as fire lighters. They really burn well but one should only use a couple of small pieces.

Burning of other fuels can be a hell of a problem though because of the smoke and intensity of the heat. Also the risk of chimney fires. Those people who live in houses without chimneys and fireplaces are the worst off because they have no alternatives.

Andrew finch

Well stuart all I can say is you clearly never worked hard enough or saved enough but just about enough in your own words to push you above the cut of limit .

Perhaps you should have rented as it seems you are now in the group known as property poor and perhaps you should cut your cloth and stop moaning.


i would burnt the daily mail, its full of facist lies

Tory Boy


Rob, Telford

Been "away" have you, Tory Boy?


Andrew Finch, one day you will be a pensioner. Let's wait and see if your comments then are full of idiotic innacuries, plain factual errors and the sort of stupid, greedy, "im'e all right jack" and couldn't care less attitude for others that we have come to expect based on these and past comments.

And no, I did not get "scrappage" allowance on my new boiler. I made the mistake of paying for it first before I knew about it and they refuse to reimburse it. And yes, those on benefits do get free boilers etc installed, a neighbour has just had it done - it cost £3,600. Something that those pensioners not on benefits do not get. So you are wrong again.

andrew finch

Stuart you realy are talking rubbish. I have spoken to a number of agencys this morning and here in the UK NO such thing as a ...free... boiler to people on benefits absolute rubbish .Again you did not get boiler scrappage due to you not doing your home work how can you blame the guv and individuals for your own rather incompetance.

Andrew finch

Having just taken a look on the internet their is a system of paper logs basicaly it is paper/ newspaper pages of books etc soaked in water mulshed up the water is then sqeezed out and paper shaped in to logs,dry and burn all rather good etc .Also you can buy thermal blankets from milletts just to wrapp around you while watching the one show .


Andrew Finch, it is beneath my dignity to argue with such stupid ill thought out comments. This is my last response. FACT - look up the Governments "WARM FRONT" Scheme - many conditions but it allows for free boilers and radiators within reason (I think the maximum value is £4000 but will stand corrected). As for the benefits one has to be in receipt of before one get's it, well you name the benefit and it is sufficient. There are many conditions, the scheme is not handed out willy nilly BUT IT EXISTS. My neighbour, a disabled single male pensioner got one, 2 weeks before I had one for which I paid. Look closely at my comments, I don't blame anyone for my situation. I suggest that you try the "agency" that deals with the WARM FRONT Scheme - you may want one when you are a pensioner.

Rob, Telford

Andrew finch said:

"Having just taken a look on the internet their is a system of paper logs basicaly it is paper/ newspaper pages of books etc soaked in water mulshed up the water is then sqeezed out and paper shaped in to logs,dry and burn all rather good etc "

Fine in theory, absolute rubbish in reality. The "logs" take forever to dry out enough to burn, and even then tend to smoulder, producing little heat. I'll bet there are thousands of the log makers sitting disused in sheds and garages around the country.

ANdrew finch

I do think stuart and chip on the old shoulder is the problem there. And Rob not 100% true but the added bonus is they keep warm ripping up the paper mulshing it and making the blocks and they keep fit to .


I'd burn the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, using the first three as firestarters.


Andrew Finch and co - lets hope you have somebody to look out for you when you are old and that when there is a big snow storm there will be somebody prepared to venture out and get your food and medication; nurse you and generally look out for you. There are still lots of elderly people out there who struggle to make ends meet. Have some compassion....

Tony Lewis

I must say that I have never laughed so much for a long time reading the various comments on this thread. I'm so glad that some of the old Shropshire humour still exists - the thing I miss most living here in Canada.

My vote for books to be burned - Meine Kampf!

As regards pensions - I was offered (after working in the UK for ten years and I remain a British subject - born and, I think, bred in Shropshire) - the rather large amount of - wait for it - 22p. a week. So I get a total of $19. a year. Lucky me.

Thankfully our winter is not too cold here in the wild west of British Columbia. Anyway - I have the old chainsaw and there are lots of trees to cut down and burn whenever I get cold. Cheers!


@Andrew Finch comment 29.

Actually people who live in housing trust housing and other housing schemes get a free boiler, even the ones who aren't on benefits who live in them get them free. I lived in a housing trust flat for 7 years and worked and they put in a new boiler about 3 years ago.

laughing out loud

Andrew Finch, I suggest you get back onto your "agencies" it would appear they have made you look rather stupid ! hey ho !


andrew finch got it wrong

the government will provide boilers and insulation completely free for the poorest oaps via the warmfront scheme

andrew finch

Mariam is a trust not a rented property?

W are the poorest of oap's home owners??

Plus many of the old folks I know have a sence of humour and a good one at that some on here get one you will be a lot happier.

dan egerton

this is tragic, we must do more to help old people we will all be there one day

in rural areas especially we need to provide sustainable energy systems on houses to help keep the cost of relatively expensive lpg and oil down and reduce co2 emissions to boot

Andrew finch

Warm front point taken in part but as it says in reciept of certain benefits etc etc , However how many home owners got a free boiler???? email the dept and ask them ( such as stuart).As I have said people who rent from associations,trusts,private it is down to the Landlord it is not their property to maintain however should they get any form of grant it is ultimatly the landlord who is getting it .