Millions of pensioners struggle to pay energy bills

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The share of their pensions they must spend in order to cover the rising cost of food, fuel and energy will jump from 67 percent in 2021-22 to 79 percent in 2022-23. Almost half (960,000) of pensioners already live in poverty or just above the poverty line, the latest analysis by Age UK suggests. This has stoked fears many will fail to meet other expenses – and that those with disabilities or ill-health are yet more vulnerable due to their higher energy usage.

More than half (51 percent) of over-70s are already spending less on non-essentials, Age UK says.

As many as 45 percent are cutting back on gas and electricity, while 26 percent are buying less food.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “I’m astonished that the bad news about prices keeps rolling in but the Government continues to sit on their hands – and from what we hear many older people are surprised and disappointed too.

“Significant numbers of older people are already struggling and the Bank of England was crystal clear last week that it’s only going to get worse. For those on low, fixed incomes, relying solely on their State Pension and benefits, it’s a terrifying prospect.”

Age UK wants an increase in benefits and the State Pension in line with inflation – and is calling for a one-off payment of £500 for those on the lowest incomes.

Some 89 percent of people aged 70 or over reported their living costs had jumped over the previous month when questioned by the Office for National Statistics in March 2022, compared to 71 percent in November last year.

One caller to Age UK, in his 80s, recently said: “I will have to cancel my carer. I prefer to be warm and dirty than clean and cold.”

Meanwhile, a couple in their mid-70s said: “We go to bed much earlier to keep warm. We used to bathe daily, but now twice a week.

“We simply cannot afford to pay these rip-off prices anymore. What is the point of life?”


Comment by Jan Shortt 

When you live on a low income like the State Pension, a small rise in your outgoings can tip your budget into the red.

The National Pensioners’ Convention was hoping the Government would announce urgent measures yesterday to help those who are struggling.

Instead, the Government “talked” about the crisis in the Queen’s Speech and then offered nothing to help us.

It is staggering to learn from Age UK that this year, poorer older people will see their outgoings on essentials soar from 67 percent to 79 percent of their income.