The state pension is too low – I’m 77, rationing food and feel like I’m back in lockdown
As the cost of living crisis continues to impact vulnerable individuals, the UK government has promised a 7% income boost to pensioners next year. While this news has been welcomed by many, some are concerned that these financial improvements will have little impact on their day-to-day lives. Yvonne DeBurgo, a 77-year-old resident of Oxfordshire, relies solely on the state pension and benefits. She believes that the amount she receives is too low and has significantly affected her quality of life.
A Nightmare Retirement
Yvonne DeBurgo, like many other pensioners, had hoped for an enjoyable and relaxing retirement. However, she claims that recent years have been more of a nightmare due to financial insecurity. Living alone in a rented property, she hasn’t been able to afford a holiday in 25 years. The lack of financial security has forced her to prioritize other essential expenses.
Yvonne is not alone in facing these challenges. Many older people in the UK, particularly those living alone, rely completely on the state pension and benefits. This financial dependence restricts their ability to pursue activities they once enjoyed, making them feel isolated and limited in what they can do.
The Impact on Physical and Mental Health
Morgan Vine, the head of policy and influencing at Independent Age, a national charity for financial advice in later life, has witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of a fixed income on older individuals. She has supported individuals who are forced to wash themselves with cold water, limit the use of their cookers, and sit in the dark to save energy.
These cutbacks have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of older individuals. Many of them already live with physical and mental health conditions. The cost-cutting measures they have to take worsen their well-being and exacerbate their existing health issues.
The Need for Action
Mary, an 84-year-old retired nurse, highlights the need for more social housing for older adults. She experienced a lengthy and costly process when she transitioned from her old four-bedroom home to a two-bed rental property. The need for adaptations to support her reduced mobility added to the expenses.
Even after moving to a more manageable house, Mary still struggles to afford heating for all of her rooms. This is particularly concerning as she has health conditions like arthritis and Raynaud’s syndrome, which require her to stay warm to avoid pain.
Will Donnelly, co-founder of later-living company Lottie, emphasizes that while the projected increase in the state pension is a welcomed lifeline for struggling pensioners, it is not enough. More support is needed, including cost of living payments, assistance with heating and energy bills, and access to affordable housing, to truly uplift and support older generations through this crisis.
- 13% of older people in the UK and 20% of single pensioners rely completely on the state pension and benefits.
- Many older individuals are forced to make cutbacks on heating, meals, and other essential expenses due to a fixed income.
- The lack of financial security and limited resources contribute to feelings of isolation and a loss of independence among pensioners.
- The cost of living crisis disproportionately affects vulnerable individuals and exacerbates existing health conditions.
- There is a need for increased social housing availability and heating allowances to support older adults.
The state pension in the UK is deemed too low by many pensioners who rely solely on it for their financial security. The projected increase in the state pension, while a step in the right direction, is unlikely to significantly improve the day-to-day lives of pensioners. More support and measures, such as cost of living payments, assistance with heating and energy bills, and access to affordable housing, are necessary to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis on older generations.
The state pension in the UK is a critical source of income for many pensioners, but it is widely regarded as inadequate for meeting their basic needs. Yvonne DeBurgo’s personal experience reflects the struggles faced by countless others who rely on the state pension and benefits. To truly address the cost of living crisis and improve the lives of older generations, the government must take further action to provide additional financial support and ensure access to affordable housing and essential services.