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Don’t end up like Emmerdale’s Edna Birch

Published on 21 February 2013 12:01 AM

As Edna Birch in ITV's Emmerdale struggles to cope financially, Age UK is encouraging older people not to suffer in silence with money worries and to seek advice.


If you're a regular viewer of Emmerdale, you can't fail to have watched the unravelling situation of Edna Birch with some horror.

Edna began 2013 short of money having lost her part-time job and struggling to feed herself properly and heat her home. After she is then hit by the double-whammy of expensive medical treatment for her sick dog and the high cost of repairing her leaking roof, Edna suddenly finds herself in a financial nightmare, unable to make ends meet.

Due to her pride, Edna is unwilling to accept help from anyone, and in tonight's episode, which airs on ITV1 at 6.45pm, things start to spiral out of control.

However, Age UK is urging any older people who are currently struggling financially not to follow Edna's example, and instead to reach out for help and advice.

Help with money problems is available

Stopping work in later life is something that many of us look forward to, but if the choice is not entirely our own - like Edna - or if we haven't put enough money aside, then financial matters can spiral out of control. It's important to consider how we will afford to live on our pension and whether we are claiming all the benefits that are available.

Age UK's Head of Information and Advice, Lucy Harmer, shares her top tips on managing money, and outlines some of the help that's available for older people who are struggling financially:

Speak up

If you're finding it hard to cope financially then don't suffer in silence. If you're aged 60 or over, you could be entitled to benefits that you haven't been able to claim before. These can help you keep your independence and improve your standard of living.

Get a benefits check

Contact your local Age UK to get a benefits check to make sure you're claiming all the money you're entitled to. As well as giving you a benefits check, your local Age UK can help you fill in any claim forms to maximise your chances of making a successful claim. You can also use Age UK's online benefits calculator to see which benefits you're entitled to.

Get help with keeping warm this winter

If you are struggling to keep warm this winter, you may be able to get help with your heating costs. There are also things you can do to keep your home warm and bills down, and you may be eligible for help with the costs involved.

Call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65 or download our free 'Winter wrapped up' guide (PDF, 733kb)opens link in new window

Seek help with any debts you have

If you have debts you're struggling with, then you should seek help as soon as possible. Don't borrow more money to pay off your debts and don't pay for debt advice. Organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureauopens link in new window, National Debtlineopens link in new window (Tel: 0808 800 4000), and StepChangeopens link in new window (Tel: 0800 138 1111) all offer free sympathetic advice with debt problems.

Prioritise your debts effectively

‘Priority bills' are the ones for which non-payment could lead to serious trouble. For example, if you don't pay your mortgage, your home could be repossessed, or if you don't pay your gas or electricity bills, your energy supply could be cut off.  Don't panic if you're behind on any of these bills. Contact Citizens Advice Bureau, National Debtline or StepChange (see details above) for help with prioritising your debts.

Work out a household budget

In the longer term, once you've claimed any benefits you may be entitled to, work out a household budget and ensure your outgoings match your income. Review your spending and think carefully about whether there are any non-essential items you could cut out. Be realistic and don't cut back on essentials like food and heating. 

To find out more about how Age UK can help, call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 6565 or speak to your local Age UK.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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