IFS: Pensioners squeezed by fuel price hike

Pensioners, including the poorest, were forced to spend more on energy while consuming less due to a hike in prices from 2004-7, research published today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In a report commissioned by Age Concern and Help the Aged, the IFS warned that higher energy prices had put “considerable pressure” on older people and forced them to use less fuel.

Older households found their gas bills rising by 55% and their electricity bills by 35% during that period, and increased spending by 21-22% on average while cutting fuel consumption by about 10% overall. The poorest fifth of households cut consumption by about 7%, with pensioners from middle-income households hardest hit.

Age Concern and Help the Aged said that the research added to the evidence that some pensioners were resorting to turning down their heating and remaining in bed in order to keep warm.

Head of public policy Andrew Harrop said: “Shockingly, the report finds that while poorer pensioners are spending more of their available income on energy, they are – at the same time – reducing the amount of energy they buy.

“Not only does this demonstrate the problem of soaring energy costs in recent times, but is a warning to policy makers and others that vulnerable older people could be putting their health at risk in winter just to cut costs.”

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