Older people urged to claim benefits
Published on 28 June 2013 11:30 AM
A new study showing that rising living costs have hit older people hardest highlights just how vital it is that they claim their benefits, according to a charity.
Overall living costs for everyone have jumped 25% in the past 5 years, placing an 'unprecedented' financial burden on the poor, said the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's (JRF's) Minimum Income Standards report.
Worst hit are older people and single people - with 4.2% increases in their costs in the past year, said the foundation's report, launched on June 28.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, said: 'This research highlights just how important it is that older people claim their benefits to reach a decent living standard.
'But with up to £5.5 billion of benefits - specifically providing a top-up to low income older people - going unclaimed each year, much more needs to be done to get this money into the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable.'
The JRF said increasing childcare and energy costs, together with stagnating wages and benefit cuts, extends the poverty gap.
But the Government said universal credits would leave 3 million people better off.
'Benefits cut in real terms for first time since 1930s' - report author
The new report examines goods and services the public believe people need in order to have a minimum acceptable standard of living.
Report author Donald Hirsch said that from this April, for the first time since the 1930s, benefits are being cut in real terms by not being linked to inflation.
Mr Hirsch added: 'This year's report demonstrates how the price of a basket of goods needed for an acceptable living standard has risen far faster than average inflation.'
The basket of goods used to gauge these statistics include day-to-day items such as the weekly food shop and clothing, in addition to single-purchase treats such as holidays.
Since 2008 the JRF said real inflation had climbed by 25% rather than the 17% rise as calculated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the system used by government.
Ms Mitchell added: 'Although state support provides older people with an income around the JRF's minimum income standard (MIS), with 1.6 million older people living in poverty, we know many are struggling to survive on a very meagre income, way below what anyone would call an acceptable level.'
Copyright Press Association 2013