Updated: Apr 6
April Fool’s Day 2022 marks the start of a tough 12 months for our oldest and poorest - starting with today’s eye-watering energy price hikes.
As the cost of living crisis bites, pensioners on low and fixed incomes are already having to choose between eating and heating. Now the Chancellor expects them to find several hundred pounds a year more from thin air to pay their energy bills – even with his meagre measures to offset costs.
‘It’s no joke Chancellor!’
Pensioners need help now not in one or two years’ time!
He is so wrong if he thinks we accept that we are all suffering equally in this horrendous cost of living crisis. His decision to suspend the ‘triple lock’ safeguarding annual state pension rises this year means from April 11, pensioners will receive just a 3.1% increase. Yet inflation is currently at 6.2% with predictions it will increase to more than 8% in the next quarter.
He has just promised to reinstate the triple lock from April 2023, with some media predicting a bumper £200 a week state pension from 2024. But this is totally misleading - and ‘jam’ next year does absolutely nothing to help older people pay their bills in the grim year ahead.
The UK state pension is not only one of the lowest in the developed world, it also perpetuates inequality by having two different schemes. Not all retirees receive the full state pension, i.e. £179.60 per week (£185.15 from 11April) if you retired after 2016, or £137.60per week (£141.85 from 11April) if you retired prior to 2016. In addition, many others - mainly older women - receive pensions that are much lower than the minimum.
So even if the Chancellor keeps his promises on the triple lock in 2023/24, not every retiree will be on the magic £200 a week pension – and even so, what on earth will be cost of living be by then?
More than 2.1 million older people living in poverty (*Age UK), which shows that a huge number of our oldest rely on their state pension alone. And even with pension credit they still struggle to pay bills.
The National Pensioners’ Convention says Chancellor Rishi Sunak must stop dismissing the cost-of-living crisis as a price we all have to pay for recent crises and take steps to help the millions having to choose between eating and heating right now.
It is not enough to offer meagre, means-tested measures to mitigate against rising costs. It is not enough to promise pie-in-the-sky pension rises in a year or two years’ time. We need help now – starting with the reinstatement of the triple lock or at least the true rate of inflation to give us a half decent rise on April 11.
Comment piece by Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary, on the April 1st Energy Price Cap rise
Download the comment piece