Elderly in UK risking health as rising prices force cutbacks in heating costs: Study

According to UK's Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) elderly people are putting their health at risk, as they are being forced by the rising energy prices to cut back on costs of heating their homes.

Between 2004 and 2007 pensioner households have seen their incomes squeezed under the 55 per cent and 36 per cent average increases in gas and electricity rates and over the same period the households spent 22 per cent more on fuel even as they reduced their consumption by 10 per cent.

According to Andrew Harrop, head of public policy at Age Concern and Help the Aged, the charity that commissioned the report, it was shocking that while the poorer pensioners are spending more of their available income on energy, they are also reducing the amount of energy they buy. He added that vulnerable older people could be jeopardising their health in winter just to cut costs.

Around 2.5 million pensioners are currently in fuel poverty with upwards of a tenth of their income going into footing fuel bills. A quarter of the people above 65 avoid heating rooms as they are worried about the cost and even stay in bed during the day to keep warm, the charity says.

The IFS report goes on to say that pensioners continue to see disproportionate increases in the cost of living. Total spending, excluding housing was slightly down for non-pensioners between 2001 and 2007, and increased for pensioners averaging 2.1 per cent per year. Poorer pensioners in their 60s are seeing living costs mount by 2.8 per cent every year.

This is partly on account of older people being forced to spend more of their budgets on fuel for heating which have risen in cost. They are therefore spending less on clothes and electrical items that have become cheaper.