Millions who rely on basic state pension to get by face poverty in old age – despite expected £6-a-week rise in payments to be revealed this month
Millions of people who rely on the basic state pension to get by face poverty in old age – despite the expected £6-a-week rise in payments to be revealed later this month.
The Government recently scrapped the ‘triple lock’ guarantee that ensured those in receipt of the state pension received annual uplifts of a minimum 2.5 per cent or the higher of inflation or wage growth. The wage link has been removed.
Yet those already struggling to survive on the basic state pension of £179.60 a week – or less – point out that the soaring cost of living will swallow up more than an expected £6-a-week increase.
Concern: Millions of people who rely on the basic state pension to get by face poverty in old age
Sylvia Deacon, from Rainham in Kent, is one of hundreds of pensioners who contacted The Mail on Sunday after we took part in an experiment to try to survive on the basic state pension for a week.
The 84-year-old says: ‘Sadly, my husband John died of pneumonia earlier this year. On top of the devastation of his loss, the harsh reality of trying to survive on a widow’s pension is daunting.’
She adds: ‘You get less money, but the house still costs the same to heat – and other bills also have to be paid. This year, with prices soaring, it is going to be harder than ever. A state pension increase of £6 a week will just not be enough.’
Sylvia gets by on £240 a week, thanks to income from a small personal pension on top of her state pension. She points out that unexpected bills can easily push people like herself into poverty. She recently spent £1,000 on a new bed – as she could not bear to sleep in the same double bed she once shared with John.
James Robert-Poulain believes it is shameful that people are expected to survive on the state pension – and that women in particular are often left out of pocket because they did not pay sufficient National Insurance contributions as a result of bringing up a family.
The 73-year-old, from Bexhill in East Sussex – who is married to former 1960s’ model Kitty Gordon, 83 – says: ‘The Government makes great guns about how it wants to level up.
‘But just look at how members of the House of Lords are paid per day twice the weekly basic state pension – and many are also enjoying the comfort of a rock-solid public sector pension. It shows how out of touch politicians are with real pensioners.’
Action groups are also concerned that the predicted increase to the state pension is not going to be enough to cover the cost of rising bills. Dennis Reed, director of campaign organisation Silver Voices, says: ‘A real cost of living crisis is looming for those who are of retirement age.
‘The basic state pension might rise by just over 3 per cent next year – but it will not keep pace with the cost of living.
‘Unfortunately, two of the biggest expenses for pensioners are energy and food. Sadly, these are suffering from much higher price rises – with price increases of perhaps 10 per cent or more over the next year.’
He adds: ‘Had the Government not abandoned the triple lock, we might have expected a pension increase of closer to 8 per cent.
‘This at least would have helped pensioners who are on the breadline. Now, there is a real danger that many of them will be tipped into poverty.’
PENSIONERS COULD BE £150 A YEAR WORSE OFF
The new basic state pension of £179.60 a week is expected to rise by 3.3 per cent from April – in line with the predicted increase in the consumer prices index for September due to be published later this month. It will also be applied to those born before April 1945 who get a weekly £137.60 that is then topped up to £177.10 by claiming pension credit.
Despite a predicted £308-a-year hike to the state pension, this will be more than swallowed up by a soaring cost of living – which may work out at more than £458 a year. In real terms, pensioners could be £150 a year worse off.
Energy costs are set to rise by 12 per cent from this month – adding £139 to the average annual gas and electricity bill. Council tax may go up 5 per cent – a typical hike of £60 a year – and groceries could rise by more than £100 a year per person.
Adding insult to financial injury, the BBC is also demanding that over-75s pay £159 a year for their previously free TV Licence.