Pensioners who are struggling to afford to get by are being urged to ask for help ahead of the expected cold snap this week.
Older people living in a household with an income less than £20,000 per year and not in receipt of means-tested benefits have faced particularly steep challenges, according to a new report by Age UK.
The charity warned almost a third (29 per cent) of over 60s in this group report that their home was too cold most or all of the time, compared to 21 per cent of all over 60s.
Almost half (49 per cent) of them were worried about the impact of energy bills on their health and 47 per cent were concerned about being able to afford wider essentials such as food.
Another cold spell is forecast to hit the UK
A 73-year-old woman told Age UK: “Our life this winter was miserable. I never thought I would get to 73 and be forced to be freezing in our own home”.
A pensioner with terminal cancer said he depends on blankets to keep warm rather than using the central heating to try to cut energy costs in his two-bedroom flat.
William, 79, said: “We still have bills that we have difficulty in meeting!”
Hundreds of thousands of those struggling are likely to be eligible for support but missing out for a variety of reasons.
An estimated 800,000 pensioners are entitled to Pension Credit but are missing out on the top-up benefit, which also opens up other forms of financial support.
Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Over the past few years spiralling energy prices have made life extremely tough for older people who face hardship because of unavoidably high energy bills.
“Those on lower fixed incomes, and anyone living with disabilities or long-term health conditions has been hit particularly hard.”
Ms Abrahams urged the Government to introduce an energy social tariff for those at greatest risk of cold, to give them confidence about staying warm at home during the winter.
She warned: “We must not sleepwalk into a situation in this country in which it is seen as ‘normal’ for an older person to have to shiver through the cold in their own home.
“If the Government brings in a funded social tariff for energy it can consign such misery to the past, and that’s what we think the Chancellor should do as part of his Spring Budget.”
Age UK is urging pensioners who are struggling to get by to claim Pension Credit, if they’re not already in receipt of the benefit, as soon as possible.
Older people, their friends and families can visit the Age UK website or call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65.