Older people 'forced to cut down energy usage'

Older people are being forced to cut down on their energy usage as they face soaring fuel bills, a report warned today.

Pensioners have seen their gas bills jump by 55 per cent in the two years to April 2007, while electricity bills have risen by 36 per cent, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.



As a result, the amount of money older households spend on fuel has increased by about 22 per cent during the same period, despite them cutting down their consumption by 10 per cent.



Age Concern and Help the Aged, which commissioned the report, warned that further price rises seen during 2008 would have increased the pressure on older people, forcing many of them to turn down the heating or cut spending in other areas in order to afford their energy bills.



The group said some pensioners were even resorting to staying in bed in a bid to reduce the amount they spent on heating.



The research also uncovered very different lifestyles being led by the poorest and richest pensioners.



In 2007, the poorest fifth of pensioners spent nearly 40 per cent of their budget after housing costs on food and fuel, while the richest fifth spent just under 20 per cent of their income on these things.



Instead the single biggest area of expenditure for the richest group of pensioners was holidays, at 12.5 per cent, while the poorest fifth spent only 3.3 per cent of their budget on trips away, nearly half the 6.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent of their income that was devoted electricity and meat respectively.



Pensioners have also seen an increasingly large proportion of their budget taken up by local taxes, such as council tax, with this soaring by 84 per cent between 1995 and 2007 to account for 7 per cent of total expenditure, compared with 4 per cent for non-retired households.



Older people are continuing to help out younger family members, with cash payments, presents to family and friends and charitable donations the 10th largest area of expenditure for the over 80s.



Andrew Harrop, head of public policy at Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: "What's most clear from this important new research is the significant differences in living standards between older people at different ends of the income scale.



"Shockingly, the report finds that while poorer pensioners are spending more of their available income on energy, they are - at the same time - reducing the amount of energy they buy.



"Not only does this demonstrate the problem of soaring energy costs in recent times, but is a warning to policy makers and others that vulnerable older people could be putting their health at risk in winter just to cut costs."



Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said: "Pensioners have been hit by soaring fuel bills which have taken a growing chunk out of their meagre state pensions.



"Once again, we see the woeful inadequacy of the basic state pension, one of the worst in Europe.



"Forcing pensioners to rely on complex and poorly understood means-tested benefits is simply not the answer to pensioner poverty. It is time that the state pension was raised to a decent level.



"As a first step, the Government should restore the earnings link at once."



Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney said: "Pensioners must not feel they can't heat their homes this winter.



"Cuts in the wholesale costs of energy must be passed on by energy suppliers to consumers, and that's particularly important for those on lower incomes.



"We're giving extra help to those households through a range of measures including Warm Front grants for insulation and heating improvements, winter fuel payments to all pensioners this winter, and we will create mandatory social price support for the poorest at the earliest opportunity."

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary