Many Older People Are Facing A Bleak Winter

In a national survey of people aged 50 and over by older people’s charity Independent Age, a third (33%) of Scottish respondents said that in order to spend money on loved ones this year, they would reduce spending on essentials for themselves as Christmas approaches.

Of those who said that they will reduce their spending:

  • 69% will socialise less
  • 44% will cut back on heating their homes
  • 41% will spend less on food
  • 37% will cut back on the electricity they use

The findings come as inflation continues to rise, with the official rate recently soaring to 11.1%.

Scottish Government statistics show that 1 in 7 (150,000) older people in Scotland are living in poverty, with 120,000 pensioners living in persistent poverty (meaning they’ve spent at least three of the past four years in poverty).

Claire Donaghy, Head of Scotland at Independent Age, said:

“It’s extremely alarming that those in later life are being forced to cut back on essentials so they can buy presents for loved ones. Older people living in one of the world’s richest nations shouldn’t have to risk damaging their health by reducing the food they eat and using less heating during the coldest months.

“For many in Scotland, the festive season is something to look forward to, but increasing numbers of older people are being hit from every angle financially.”

The Basic State Pension

Control over the State Pension is a power retained by the UK Government. It is not a benefit but has been earned over the decades of paying taxes – you can think of it as deferred wages. To get the basic State Pension you must have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions. The full basic State Pension is £141.85 per week.

For people over 66, Pension Credit acts as an income top-up, and is a gateway to additional support, including the Warm Home Discount and Council Tax Reduction. It is also being used as a mechanism by the government to decide who gets some of the vital cost-of-living payments announced in November.

Independent Age estimate that almost 80,000 people who are eligible for Pension Credit in Scotland are currently not claiming, resulting in £160 million being missed out on by older people in Scotland.

Click on this link for information and how to apply: Help during the cost of living crisis

Claire Donaghy added: 

“The government was right to uprate Pension Credit by inflation in the Autumn Budget, but the hard truth is too many older people are still not receiving this vital income top-up that they are eligible for. Without it, many people in later life are facing a stressful and dire Christmas, forced to cut back on food and heating, which can be detrimental to their health. 

“It is scandalous that people are struggling when billions of pounds has been set aside for them and the money is sitting there unused. The government must commit to a Pension Credit strategy to prevent hundreds of thousands of people missing out.”

Independent Age has launched a petition calling on the government to end the Pension Credit scandal and announce a strategy to increase uptake. 

You can sign the petition here: End the Pension Credit Scandal

Click on this link for support for Older People: Cost of Living Support for Older People

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