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Most pensioners 'just getting by'

Rising living costs are causing hardship for British pensioners, with 58% saying they are "just getting by" or worse, according to research.

A study for Age UK has found that 47% of over-60s class themselves as "just getting by", with a further 11% finding it difficult or "really struggling" to cope financially.

The face-to-face survey of 1,258 people conducted last month shows nearly one in five pensioners, or 19%, cut back on heating this winter in order to make ends meet. The same percentage said they are going out less in order to save money and more than one in four, or 26%, said they are buying cheaper or less food.

Among poorer pensioners, the figures rose to more than a third, or 35%, buying cheaper or less food, and 21% going out less. A total of 11% said they are in debt through mortgage, credit cards or bank loans.

The findings have been released to coincide with Age UK's More Money in Your Pocket campaign aimed at encouraging over-60s to claim all the benefits they are entitled to after the charity found as much as £5.4 billion goes unclaimed each year.

Just under a half of pensioners are entitled to pension credit, the top-up for people on low incomes, but a third of people eligible for the benefit do not claim it, according to Age UK.

Up to 1.97 million pensioners are also missing out on council tax benefit worth £1.5 billion a year - if claimed this could boost their income by an average of £728 a year, it calculated, while up to 350,000 older people are entitled to housing benefit but are not receiving it.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK charity director, said: "At a time when so many people are struggling financially, it is unacceptable that vital benefits are failing to reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people in our society."

The charity is urging older people seeking advice on benefits to get in touch with their local Age UK or Age Concern, or call Age UK Advice, the charity's free national advice line, on freephone 0800 169 65 65. The charity has also launched an online "benefits checker" at www.ageuk/benefitschecker.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "Some people still miss out despite our efforts to improve take-up. This is exactly why we've set out proposals for reform including a single tier state pension set above the level of the means test."


From Belfast Telegraph