Older people will have to give up on modest ambitions such as visiting family, going to a football match or having an occasional takeaway as the cost-of-living crisis kicks in.
Energy regulator Ofgem announced today that the energy price cap is to rise by nearly £700 from 1st April. In response, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a £150 council tax rebate for households in bands A-D, and a £200 contribution for all domestic energy customers.
Campaigning organisation Later Life Ambitions, who represent over a quarter of a million pensioners, has warned that this will have a devastating impact on people later in life. Older people are already having to budget following the government’s decision to suspend the pensions triple lock. The former Pensions Minister Sir Steve Webb calculated that over the next five years, the scrapping of the triple lock will cost pensioners a total of £2,600 each. The Government support announced today is a drop in the ocean compared to the financial difficulties pensioners are facing.
Many are also on fixed incomes meaning they are particularly susceptible to price rises. Inflation is currently at its highest level in decades, and today the Bank of England has warned it will soon top 7%.
Later Life Ambitions surveyed its members to get a picture of their financial situation. Many reported that they were worried about the future and that they would have to go without this winter. One said he would have to decide whether to keep going to support his local football team, denying him a rare chance to get out and socialise. Another said she and her partner would have to give up their weekly treat of a Marks and Spencer ready meal. Many respondents said they would be forced to turn the heating down or off altogether and one said she was going without hot water for fear of incurring an unaffordable bill.
Lisa Ray, General Secretary of the Civil Service Pensioners Alliance, one of the organisations that makes up Later Life Ambitions, said:
“Older people are uniquely susceptible to this cost-of-living crisis.
“They ought to be able to live without fear for their financial security, yet this energy price rise, and ever-increasing inflation, takes that away from them.
“Our research showed the sorts of things that older people are going to have to give up as their financial situation becomes more precarious – an occasional ready meal from Marks and Spencer, tickets to support their football team or even running a car, without which they won’t be able to visit beloved grandchildren.
“The government has rightly acted to shore up household finances in the face of these rises, although the measures will only meet part of additional fuel costs. It is now even more important that they stick to their promise to re-introduce the triple lock, to ensure nobody in later life is plunged into financial straits by bigger fuel bills or be forced to give up on very modest ambitions.”