As further details of the spending review come to light, a radical cost-cutting scheme involving putting pensioners to sleep for the winter is being introduced across England and Wales.
The enforced hibernation scheme - the brainchild of wildlife expert Terry Nutkin - is based on senior citizens adopting the behaviour of other mammals in a bid to reduce their consumption of lighting, heating, food and other expensive resources during the colder months.
A series of giant burrow complexes are now being dug near retirement homes, warden-controlled accommodation and across the entire length of Eastbourne. Each individual tunnel system contains enough straw-lined sleeping compartments to safely house tens of thousands of dormant pensioners until spring.
Paul Ellis, head of Hibern-8, the private sector organisation set up to enforce the scheme explained how it will operate. “When the temperature dips below the level that would have triggered payment under a Labour government, the old folk will be rounded up and taken to the burrows. Here trainees will administer mugs of industrial-strength Horlicks laced with enough Night Nurse to put the average senior citizen to sleep from November to March.”
Nutkin explained the science behind the scheme. “The frozen ground around the tunnels acts like a natural form of cryogenic storage, slowing the heart beat and respiratory rate while preserving the pensioners in a state of suspended animation. Sustaining them in this way requires no food, light or TV – it’s very economical.”
Analysts calculate that the reduced level of consumption, as well as the savings to be made from eliminating cold weather payments, will help reduce the budget deficit by £620 million in the first year.
Hibern-8 plan to rouse pensioners later by popping with a Werther’s Original into their mouths. Ellis admitted that European law had prevented the revival technique been fully tested on humans before the scheme will be introduced, although tests on fruit flies had been ‘encouraging’.