CHESHIRE pensioners are feeling the pinch due to an increase in food prices, petrol hikes and soaring energy bills.
Hikes in basic groceries, the rise in fuel to £1.03p per litre and annual energy bills above £1,000 are hitting pensioners the hardest.
One correspondent wrote to The Chronicle to say: “Why is it that petrol is going up almost weekly and gas has gone up to a whopping 17.5%, more in some places? Pensioners are not getting enough now – how will they cope?
He said: “The nice nest egg you saved very hard for, to enable you to have a relatively worry-free retirement, would be worth a lot less than it is at present.”
Age Concern Cheshire is concerned pensioners are the most vulnerable to the rise in living costs because they have no added means of income.
Policy manager Ken Clemence said: “It’s really quite frightening. Food prices are soaring and energy bills are going up in excess of £1,000 per year. According to a Government report, one-in-four people living in fuel poverty are over 70.
“Pensioners feel they have to make cutbacks in food or heating. Fuel prices have gone up way beyond inflation; increasing numbers of elderly people don’t have anyone to turn to. Elderly people should not have to be putting health before wealth.
“There is more than £5billion in unclaimed benefits, which is an astronomical figure. There is not enough advice and information for pensioners on how to claim, and procedures are complicated.”
According to a Commission for Rural Communities’ report, take up of pension credits is lower in rural areas: “In villages and hamlets and isolated dwellings the difference is even more pronounced – 54% of eligible pensioners are non recipients of pension credit,” it stated.
“We estimate that more than 250,000 pensioners in rural areas are eligible to receive pension credit but are not claiming.”
County councillor Eveleigh Moore-Dutton said pensioners were having to cope with rising Council Tax and living costs at a time when the average private pension was decreasing.
She said: “Pensioners living in urban and rural areas are being hit by fuel and food prices which are way above inflation and will be the hardest hit.”
If you would like to get advice from Age Concern Cheshire, call 01244 401500; for general enquiries ring 01606 881660 and for information and advice ring 01606 881668.