A charity is calling on business people who can afford it to forgo their Winter Fuel Allowance to help older and vulnerable people keep warm this winter.

The Birmingham and Black Country Community Foundation (BBCCF) has launched its Surviving Winter Appeal against a backdrop of more than 700,000 households suffering from winter fuel poverty in the West Midlands.

The Winter Fuel Allowance is a universal payment of between £100 and £300, depending on age and domestic circumstances, made to everybody over 60 on the electoral roll during November and December.

In 2010 more than 2700 vulnerable people died in the West Midlands from causes directly attributable to cold and poor living conditions, the charity said.

Last year’s appeal raised more than £20,000 and helped around 200 households in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Mubina Khan, marketing and communications manager at BBCCF, said: “We have a ready-made network of contacts such as lunch clubs, day centres and many others to help identify those needing help in their local communities and ensure the money raised is given out cost-effectively to make the greatest impact.”