Last year the number of pensioners living in poverty rose by 200,000 – this year the higher cost of living and energy prices will further worsen the huge wealth inequalities we already see among older people. The state pension is planned to rise by 3.1% this year while inflation is predicted to rise by 7.25% – a real terms cut of more than £7 a week.
So what can we do, short-term? First, everyone who is entitled to it should be claiming Pension Credit. According to official figures, £1.6bn in Pension Credit is unclaimed, with nearly 1m pensioner households missing out on an average £1,600. Next, make sure you’re going to the right supermarket to do your basic shop. WOPF members have already been alerted to the regular Which? “shopping basket” research that shows the big difference between Aldi or Lidl, say, and Waitrose.
Similarly, recent articles in the press on “vampire energy” have given some useful money-saving tips. The term refers to all those devices you don’t use but leave on at night, pilot lights on, sucking power from the mains. It might not be a lot per device, but over time they all add up. A study by British Gas found “as much as 23% of our electrical usage can be put down to so-called vampire energy”.
Did you know that a phone charger uses power even when not charging a phone? A printer on standby does too. The TV uses power if not switched off at the mains. Your Sky box can use 30W/h (or about £73 a year). The microwave, coffee-maker and computer are also among the top culprits. Take a leaf out of your old granny’s book and turn things off at the mains at night.