Almost a million older people have had to cut back on food shopping to cover the cost of utility bills in the last two years, a charity has warned today.
Age UK’s research shows that the cost of living is forcing many of the poorest pensioners to cut back on food and seek out other ways to pay for day-to-day essentials.
More than 1.6 million shop for food in the reduced section or wait for food to be discounted at the end of the day while 1.4 million grow their own vegetables to save money. Worryingly more than 155,000 skip meals to save money.
“Poverty remains the reality of life for far too many older people,” said Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams.
“Our research shows the extreme lengths many older people are going to just to get by – but cutting back on food or traipsing from shop to shop shouldn’t be an acceptable norm of everyday later life.”
She pointed out that if all those eligible for Pension Credit made a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £1,716 a year – more than covering the average dual-fuel bill which is currently at £1,271 a year.
In fact, its findings suggest more than four-fifths of those receiving Pension Credit can afford to buy good quality food and have a balanced diet.
The charity has produced a new Pension Credit guide to help older people on a low income claim the extra money they are owed. To order a free copy call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65, contact your local Age UK, or visit ageuk.org.uk/calculators for an online benefits calculator which can help older people find out what benefits they may be entitled to.