New research from Age Scotland has revealed a substantial increase in the number of older people facing financial hardship.
The charity’s Big Survey identified that 41% of over 50s in Scotland feel financially squeezed and a further 35% think they will be within a year. This is an increase of more than 60% in two years since the charity’s first Big Survey in 2021 where 26% felt financially squeezed.
Nearly all respondents who are squeezed (97%) were struggling with energy bills, an increase from 82% in 2021. Food was in second place for 76%, which didn’t feature in the charity’s 2021 list of most concerning bills. In third place was Council Tax which had risen sharply to 62% from 46% in 2021.
Eight in ten people over the age of 50 (79%) reported cutting back on energy and heating, 55% on holidays, 49% on food, 46% on socialising and 41% on savings.
Of further concern for the future is the 26% of those aged 50-54 and 27% aged 55-59 cutting back on saving for retirement.
15% of respondents with less than £10,000 annual gross household income were using credit or taking on debt to cope with their finances and oOnly 16% felt optimistic about their future.
Katherine Crawford, CEO of Age Scotland, said: “Our Big Survey findings drive home the devastating toll the cost-of-living crisis is taking on older people’s financial wellbeing.
“Far too many pensioners are affected by poverty, and the stark reality for 2023 is older people in Scotland are getting colder, poorer and less optimistic about their future.
Natalie Don MSP added: “Too many older people are cutting back on all life’s necessities and pleasures – from heating and food to holidays and social activities – and still struggling to make ends meet.
“The Age Scotland helpline is hearing from an increasing number of older people who are finding it near impossible to pay their bills, having cut down on all but the essentials, and are at risk of falling into unmanageable debt as a result.
“It’s also a concern that a huge number of working age older people cutting back on saving for retirement as this paints a grim image of the future.
“The UK has one of the worst state pension schemes in the developed world. The UK Government has failed to ensure that the pension triple lock continues, so year on year the real value of the state pension falls even further.”
Don added: “It’s clear that pensioners are treated as an afterthought by successive UK governments. Scotland needs the real powers of an independent nation to boost the Scottish State Pension.
“It’s important that anyone who needs support gets what is available. I would encourage everyone to seek advice on whether or not they are getting the help they are entitled to.
“This can be done by contacting Renfrewshire Council’s Advice Works (0300 300 1238), Renfrewshire CAB (0141 889 2121) or, if you fall within their age range -over 50 – contact Age Scotland’s helpline on 0800 12 44 222 to help make sure you’re not missing out.”
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