Over-65s may go without food or heat to cope with energy price rises

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Nearly a quarter (24%) of older people believe they’ll be forced to choose between heating their home and buying food if their energy bills increase substantially.

Inflation jumped to a near 30-year high of 5.4% in December. And the energy price cap is due to rise in the spring, possibly increasing bills by 50%, according to predictions.

Only ‘bad choices’

An Age UK survey found that more than half (54%) of those surveyed said they’d have to heat their home less.

And just over two-fifths (43%) said they’d have to cut back, go into debt or simply won’t be able to afford to pay their bill, according to the research among over-65s.

One 69-year-old woman told Age UK:

I am currently in bed keeping warm today as it’s so cold and I can’t afford to have my heating on for the whole day.

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I’m reduced to showering on alternate days, which I hate, and I’m eating food that’s microwaveable to avoid heating my oven.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said:

Many older people are reliant on the state pension as their main source of income and simply do not have the flex in their finances to cope with such enormous price rises.

At Age UK, we are being contacted every day by desperate older people in this position, people for whom there are only ‘bad choices’ – ration your energy use, cut back on food or other essentials, or go into debt.

Missing out on vital support

Age UK warned that many older people are missing out on extra income as well as vital support. That’s because they’re not receiving Pension Credit, despite being eligible. And as a result, they don’t have access to Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

It said many older people on low incomes are unaware that they qualify for Pension Credit. Moreover, a successful claim opens the door to a wide range of other support, including help with energy bills.

Therefore Age UK is urging any older person on a low or modest income to have a full benefits check. This is as part of its campaign ‘The Cost Of Cold’.

People can call the charity’s advice line on freephone 0800 169 65 65. They can also contact their local Age UK office, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.

Abrahams said:

Any older person who is finding it difficult to pay their bills, or who is worried about staying warm, can call us today – if we help you to submit a successful claim it could make all the difference.

There really is no downside to checking you are receiving everything you are entitled to, so please come forward and let us help you make sure.

A government spokesperson said:

We know this has been a challenging time for many people, which is why we’re providing support worth around £12 billion this financial year and next to help households across the country with the cost of living.

Our winter fuel payments are supporting over 11 million pensioners with their energy bills and we are continuing to encourage those eligible for Pension Credit, and the wide range of other benefits it can provide, to make a claim.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Given that gas stocks were low going into winter, given that investment in increasing both gas extraction and storage is at a multi-decadel low, given that Germany, France & Belgium have mothballed their nuclear plants, given that the UK has mothballed its coal-fired power stations and given, above all, that Russia has found on its eastern doorstep a big new gas buyer (who, incidentally, doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss for human rights or democracy or even the sovereignty of the Ukraine) and it is hardly surprising that energy prices have risen.
      Demand up, supply down.
      Solar & wind won’t close the gap.
      We can’t do much to temper midwinter demand (though I suppose star jumps may help) but we can exploit indigenous supply both of gas and coal.
      If going Green for the planet also means going Blue from the cold then you can count me out.

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