Pensioners to spend one pound out of every five on energy bills, Labour warns

Proportion of outgoings taken by gas and electricity has almost trebled

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 08 August 2022 00:53 BST

One pound in every five spent by pensioners this winter will go on energy bills, Labour has warned.

With rises in the energy price cap forecast to push typical annual bills above £3,700 in October and as high as £4,400 in January and £4,700 in April, keeping warm will cost the elderly eye-watering sums.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is understood to be finalising a package of support which Labour will propose as a means of staving off the worst hardship.

Without further support, the party calculates that pensioners’ spending on electricity and gas will this year be almost triple the figure for 2020/21, as a proportion of their outgoings.

The cuts to national insurance and income tax offered by Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will also not benefit the majority of pensioners, who do not pay the levies.

New analysis by Labour shows that over-65s spend a significantly higher proportion on energy than working-age families.

In 2020/21, some £23 out of the £342.50 spent each week by an average pensioner went on energy – 7 per cent of the total, compared to 4 per cent for younger households.

But in 2022/23, that figure has risen to £79.81 on energy bills out of a total weekly spend of £409.97, meaning domestic gas and electricity take up 19 per cent of pensioners’ outgoings.

The proportion spent by younger households has also tripled to 12 per cent, with £75.99 out of weekly outgoings of £629.38 taken up by energy.

The £400 grant to each household delivered by Mr Sunak to help with bills amounts to just £7.69 a week, enough to bring over-65s’ spend down to 18 per cent of the total – still well over double last year’s figure.

This comes as the Bank of England forecasts one of the worst recessions for the country since the 1990s, highlighting that inflation could hit 13 per cent by the end of the year.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Pensioners up and down the country are worrying about how they’ll heat their homes this winter while Tory leadership candidates propose fantasy tax cuts that won’t get help to those who need it.

“Twelve years of Conservative inaction has already left us with a weak economy that lacks resilience to shocks. Now they have lost control completely and we are watching inflation skyrocket while they sit on their hands.

“A Labour government would act now to cut bills by taxing the huge profits made by the oil and gas producers, bring down energy bills for good with a green energy sprint for home-grown power, and bring forward a 10-year warm homes plan to cut bills for 19 million cold, draughty homes.”

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