165,000 older households in Wales will be unable to cover their essential spending this year, warns Age Cymru

Written by on 11th May 2022

Around 165,000 older household in Wales will have insufficient income to cover their essential spending this year, with almost two fifths of these (around 70,000) living in poverty or just above the poverty line and/or in receipt of benefits, according to the latest analysis by Age Cymru.

The Charity estimates that the poorest older households will need to drastically increase the percentage of their net income spent on essential goods and services from 58% in 2021-22 to 73% in 2022-23 due to higher costs of living.

For older people, essential spending covers rent or mortgage, Council Tax, utility bills, food and drinks, communications in the home such as the telephone and internet, and transport with taxis and vehicle running costs.  The Charity is deeply concerned that, for those living on low and modest incomes, there will be no wiggle room to meet other expenses and the situation will be worse still for those with disabilities or ill-health who have higher energy needs.

That’s why Age Cymru is calling for immediate UK Government action to help all those who need it. The Charity is urging the Government to increase benefits and the State Pension in line with inflation to help all those on a low income, irrespective of age, who are facing unprecedented hardship as prices soar. It’s also calling for a one-off payment of £500 for those on the lowest incomes to mitigate the impact of energy price increases.

Age Cymru’s recent survey regarding older people’s experiences during the latter stages of the pandemic found that 35% of older people reported the cost of living as a current challenge which was a 20% increase in comparison to last year, which itself had gone up from the first survey in 2020.

Age Cymru’s chief executive, Victoria Lloyd said:

“This latest analysis, building on the preliminary findings of our post pandemic survey, shows the brutal impact that rocketing prices are having on Wales’ older population and the desperate situation facing thousands of older people, if the UK Government fails to act.  It is astonishing that there is so much evidence of the struggles facing older people and yet the government fails to intervene in any effective way.

“For older people on low fixed incomes, relying solely on their State Pension and benefits, the future is looking extremely bleak as there are no more cuts they can make to their household budgets. Without effective government intervention older people are at risk of deep hardship like nothing we’ve seen in this country for many years.

“That’s why, alongside our partners in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland,  we’re calling for the UK Government to urgently increase benefits and the State Pension in line with inflation to help all those on a low income, irrespective of age. A one-off payment of £500 to those on the lowest incomes would also help enormously to mitigate the impact of energy price increases.”

Case Study

Margaret Evans (not her real name) contacted Age Cymru’s Advice Service this week feeling totally desperate. Margaret, who is in her late 70s and lives with her disabled husband, has been diagnosed with cancer and needs to visit hospital for chemotherapy.

As a result of the illness Margaret must keep the heating on most of the day and at the same time pay for travel to and from the hospital.  These expenses are on top of the cost-of-living crisis.

To pay all their bills the couple started selling some of their possessions and Margaret was particularly upset to part with her late mother’s jewellery and ceramics at an auction house.  She said she was constantly having to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’.  They’ve had to go into their overdraft at times and have no savings left.

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