Pensioners forced back to work to survive cost of living price spikes

Energy bills could rise above £4,200 in January, and for the retired, that could swallow up almost half of their annual state pension. ITV News Social Affairs Correspondent Sarah Corker reports.

While the politicians argue over what to do about the cost of living crisis, day-to-day life is becoming ever more desperate for people at the sharp end - particularly elderly people.

Some who had hoped to enjoy their retirement have been forced back to work in order to survive. It's estimated around two million British pensioners currently live in poverty, the highest it has been since 2012.

The Citizens Advice Bureau says the number of people over 65 being referred to food banks has doubled in the last 12 months. Others are being forced out of retirement and back to work.

Campaigners have said the government needs to take urgent action - or many pensioners will face a struggle to survive this winter.

As energy bills and food prices continue to climb, some pensioners have had to cut back on care support in order to survive.

Yvonne Ewerse Credit: ITV News

Yvonne Ewerse usually relies on a team of carers but as prices show no signs of slowing down, she has had to forgo some of her home support, including her physiotherapy sessions.

She said: "Things are getting a bit tough, I can't afford it anymore."

It isn't just energy and food prices that are leaving pensioners at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis - travel worries present a real problem for those seeking support.

Aloma Simmons, who works as a full-time carer said: "We feel it, its really expensive. I think it is ridiculous.

"From the bus fares or the taxis, it is all getting higher."

Statistics show that pensioners from black or Asian communities are around twice as likely to be living in poverty as white pensioners.

While inflation is at a 40-year high - sitting at 9.4% - the state pension has not kept pace with rising costs and has only increased by 3.1%, leaving pensioners to pick up the shortfall or be left out in the cold.

Some charities have seen demand go up by as much as 40%. Credit: ITV News.

Another problem facing older people is that they aren't claiming all the help they are entitled to, around a third of low-income pensions have left their pension credit unclaimed.

Energy regulator Ofgem is to blame for part of a massive hike in energy bills, experts have said, as they forecast the price cap would hit more than £4,200 in January.

For some retirees, that represents around half of their state pension.

Ofgem is expected to hike the price cap on energy bills to £3,582 per year for the average household from the beginning of October, from £1,971 today according to a new forecast.

In a new dire outlook for households, energy consultancy Cornwall Insight said bills are set to soar again to around £4,266 for the average household in the three months from the beginning of January.

Analysts at Cornwall Insight have predicted further rises in 2023, warning the cap could reach £4,427 from the start of April.

Some who had hoped to enjoy their retirement have been forced back to work, while many others are unable to retire.

Janet Kane retired back in 2020 when she was 66 years old, however living on her own with limited savings has proven tough and due to rising costs she has had to return to work in a care home.

She said: "I wouldn't be coping just on the pension. So it's a case of how much longer I can continue to work."

Janet Kane. Credit: ITV News.

She added: "Even with what I'm earning at the moment, it left me with £63 a month, for food to live on. That's allowing for the energy as it is at the moment, which we know is going to increase."

Campaigners have warned that the situation is becoming a national emergency.

The 68-year-old added: "It's certainly not how I imagined my life, but I try to keep positive, keep working, keep healthy and that's all I can do from day to day.

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