The economic downturn is forcing older people to return to a rationing mentality not seen in the UK since the Second World War, according to the Royal British Legion.
The charity says an urgent package of benefits is necessary to lift pensioners, currently having to make “degrading” choices between food, clothes and heating, due to deepening poverty.
The Return to Rationing? campaign, supported by Age Concern, calls for increased council tax benefit and for the personal expense allowance for care home residents to be doubled.
The charity believes war pensioners should be exempt from means-testing for disabled facilities grants. A recent survey revealed one-third of ex-service personnel over the age of 65 struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle due to “inadequate” incomes.
The RBL’s director general, Chris Simpkins, said spiralling food and utility costs were having a “crushing impact” on older people.
“We all thought rationing was history. But we were wrong,” he said.
“The government must give [older people] the help they deserve – making it easier for them to access their entitlements and giving them a level of income to ensure their basic needs are met.”
Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman said an estimated one in three older people would be in fuel poverty this winter, and that without government intervention, rationing would return.