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Rising inflation and energy prices mean 2m older households will not be able to cover basic spending



More than two million older households will not be able to cover their daily essential spending by the end of the year, a charity has warned.

Age UK estimates that the poorest older households – defined as those with at least one inhabitant aged 60 or over – will have to spend more of their household income on essential goods and services, from 67 per cent in 2021/2022 to 79 per cent in 2022/2023.

The charity says it is “deeply concerned” that older people will have no “wiggle room” for unexpected expenses due to the higher costs of living.

It includes housing costs, council tax, utility bills, food and drinks, home communications (including internet) and transport in its essential spending estimations.

Age UK cites recent ONS figures that show the proportion of older people reporting an increase in their cost of living over the previous month has been steadily increasing since November 2021.

In March 2022, around nine in 10 people aged over 50 reported an increase in their essential expenses, compared to 7 in 10 people of the same age in November 2021.

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According to the organisation’s analysis of these figures, it found that among those aged 70 or older, the most common reasons behind an increase in their cost of living included a higher cost of food with 96 per cent of respondents saying this, energy bills (80 per cent) and a rise in the cost of fuel (81 per cent).

Age UK said that in response, 51 per cent of over-70s were spending less on non-essential items, while 47 per cent were cutting back on non-essential transport and 45 per cent are trying to use less energy at home.

Of those two million households who risk being unable to cover their costs, the charity estimates that almost half are either living on the poverty line or are in receipt of benefits.

An unnamed couple in their mid-70s told the charity: “When it’s cold, we go to bed much earlier to keep warm. We used to bathe daily but this will now be cut to twice a week.

“I think this says it all, we simply cannot afford to pay these rip-off prices anymore. What’s the point of life?”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Our new analysis shows the brutal impact that rocketing prices are having on our older population and lays bare the desperate situation facing almost a million pensioners next year, if the Government fails to act.

“That’s why we’re calling for the Government to urgently increase benefits and the State Pension in line with inflation to help all those on a low income – irrespective of age – who will otherwise be in deep trouble as prices continue to rise.

“A one-off payment of £500 to those on the lowest incomes would also help enormously to mitigate the impact of energy price increases.”

Age UK is asking older people to answer its survey about how the rising cost of living is affecting them, and will use the evidence to press the government for more financial support. To take part, please click here.

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