Saturday, May 21, 2022

Cost of living crisis leaves hard up British pensioners facing malnutrition and even DEATH

ELDERLY in the UK are facing a hard time as inflation hits a 40-year high of 9 per cent, a news report has claimed.
02:20, Sat, May 21, 2022 | 
UPDATED: 02:20, Sat, May 21, 2022
British pensioners

According to the report, pensions are facing serious health and well-being risks as a result of not being able to afford energy and food prices, with warnings that some could die unnecessarily. Several charity organisations have been “inundated” with calls from pensioners with “real fear” about how they will survive financially, adding that the situation is likely to worsen.

Conservative peer and former pensions minister Baroness Altmann told The i: “The rise in state pension is nowhere near enough just to cover their basic needs for heating a home and eating enough to keep them from malnutrition.

“It seems to me that the Government often does not realise or understand that there is real hardship for many elderly people in 21st-century Britain.

“Many of the poorest live alone, with nobody to turn to and rely on benefits or fixed small pensions, which have not kept up with the rising cost of living.”

Baroness Altmann, who campaigns for the rights of pensioners and older people, added: “It is clear that pensioners trying to survive on just the state pension – and there are millions with little or no more than that – will simply not be able to make ends meet.”

British pensioners

Cost of living crisis leaves hard up British pensioners facing malnutrition (Image: Getty Images)
She suggested energy companies should allow older people to delay payments or “offer them reduced bills during this unprecedented price shock”.

Prices are rising at their fastest rate for 40 years as higher energy bills hit millions of households.

The surge came as millions of people saw an unprecedented £700-a-year increase in energy costs last month.

Higher fuel and food prices, driven by the Ukraine war, are also pushing the cost of living up, with inflation expected to continue to rise this year.

Around three quarters of the rise in inflation in April came from higher electricity and gas bills, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

While the new state pension rate is £185.15 per week, or £9,600 a year, the minimum income standard, for an acceptable standard of living, is £12,800 a year.

There are nearly 12.5 million people on the state pension, 1.4 million of whom are on a low income and in receipt of the pension credit benefit. Around two million older people are living in poverty.

John Palmer, director of policy and communications at the charity Independent Age, said: “We know that living in poverty increases the likelihood of experiencing physical and mental health problems. For example, living on a low income means many older people cannot heat their home or are forced to skip meals.

“This is no way for anyone to live, but for people in later life who often have multiple health conditions, the consequences could not be more serious.

“Our helpline has been inundated with calls from people struggling to make ends meet, feeling real fear. With record inflation and rapidly rising energy and food costs, the situation will only get worse.

“With most people in later life on a fixed income, many are already dreading the winter ahead.

“The Government has left millions that rely on the state pension or pension credit in a perilous position.”

Mr Palmer called on ministers to increase the uptake of pension credit and to “leave no stone unturned to immediately get money into the pockets of older people”.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, warned that without urgent Government intervention, life is set to get harder for pensioners already struggling to make ends meet.

She said: "Pensioners living on the breadline cannot increase their incomes to meet all these extra costs and have only modest savings, if any, to fall back on.

“Rather than coming up with ever more complex schemes which depend on local councils or utility companies to administer them, or loan schemes which some older people fear will drag them into debt, the Government should do the simple and obvious thing, which is using the state pension and benefits systems to get more money into the pockets of people who most need a financial boost.

Ms Abrahams added: “Ministers’ apparent reluctance to do this is increasingly hard to understand as the evidence mounts up about the way inflation is absolutely hammering those on low and modest incomes in our society.”

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