High Utility, Food and Broadband Costs Hitting Older Scots

A shocking report ‘The Hidden Two Million’ published by Independent Age UK has revealed the daily struggles older people across the UK are faced with due to rising costs.

A damaging stereotype permeates our society: that everyone in later life is enjoying a comfortable retirement with a large pension pot, mortgage-free mansion and significant savings. Sadly, for all of us, this is not the case. – The Hidden Two Million

woman in brown shirt wearing eyeglasses sitting on brown leather sofa
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This false narrative of wealthy pensioners living the easy life is perpetuated in TV adverts mainly for financial services and funeral plans. The reality is very different for those older people watching the adverts.

Independent Age say that high costs across the board, from utilities and food to accessing the internet, are causing misery for thousands of older people across Scotland.

Laid bare in their new report – The Hidden Two Million – is the profound impact high costs are having on those in later life living on the lowest income across the UK. In Scotland, over half (56%) of those polled on a low income (less than £15,000 per year) say they are worried about the cost of electricity. When asked about heating, still over half (54%) were concerned about the utility’s affordability.

In the latest Orkney News report we covered the rising costs affecting all of us.

Polling by Independent Age shows that a staggeringly high 45% of older people living on £15,000 per year or less are cutting back on their food spending and well over a third (42%) of the same group are concerned about covering their food bills for the next 6 months.

Across the UK, 20% of single pensioners, and 7% of couple pensioners have no other source of income outside the State Pension and other benefits.

Managing on a fixed income means, when faced with increased bills, the only options they feel they have to choose from, are to cut back – which could harm physical and mental health – or go into debt.

It’s not just big bills that are squeezing older people’s finances. Smaller but important bills, such as phone and broadband, are also causing money worries. New polling commissioned by Independent Age shows that 39% of older people with an income of less than £15,000 per year, are already cutting back on their phone usage to save money. While 35% of the same group are fearful of not being able to afford their broadband bill during the next 6 months. This is concerning as not being digitally connected can lead to social isolation and limits access to better deals only found online.

Statistics released in March 2023 show that in 2021/22, there were 2.1 million (18%) pensioners living in poverty across the UK. This has grown, with approximately 500,000 more pensioners in poverty now than there were in 2012. There is also an additional 1.1 million pensioners who are financially insecure and living just above the poverty line.

The Hidden Two Million

And those most affected are:

  • single people
  • women
  • people from minoritised ethnic communities
  • private renters
  • carers
  • people with long-term conditions or disabilities

The report includes interviews of which this means to real people and has a series of recommendations for both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Independent Age is urging both the government and private sector to do the following in support of older people in financial hardship:

  • Utility companies must provide and promote financial support to everyone on low incomes, including older people
  • The UK Government should introduce national social tariffs across utilities such as energy
  • The UK and Scottish Governments must ensure that everyone in financial hardship in later life receives the financial support they are entitled to

1 reply »

  1. Don’t forget the increase in alcohol prices imposed by Holyrood to combat the genetic disposition of a large proportion of the Scots to live as unhealthy a lifestyle as possible. As usual, the rest of us have to pay the price or their irresponsibility.

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