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Almost a million pensioners have been found to regularly skip meals and cut down on food bills in a bid to save money, it has been reported.
Research from the later life charity Age UK has shown that the current cost of living is proving too much for some older people, with many choosing to spend less on food in order to pay for more pressing costs such as utility bills instead.
The charity reported that more than 1.6 million older people aged 65 and over shop for food in the reduced-to-clear section of their supermarket or wait for it to be discounted at the end of the day. Elsewhere, 1.4 million have said they save money by growing their vegetables, whilst 500,000 have said they have given up meat.
More worryingly is the fact that more than 155,000 have said they skip meals to save money.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said:[quote]Our research shows the extreme lengths many older people are going to just to get by. Cutting back on food or traipsing from shop to shop should not be an acceptable norm of everyday life.”[/quote]
Ms. Abrahams went on to say that if all those eligible to claim Pension Credit were to apply, their income could increase by £1,716 a year. The new benefit was introduced in 2003 as a means of topping up the income of retired people, by means of Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit is granted to people whose weekly incomes fall below £148.35 (if they are single) and £226.50 (for couples). Savings Credit on the other hand is paid to those who have also saved up some money during their lifetime towards their retirement, such as a pension.
Findings have suggested that more than four fifths of people receiving Pension Credit are able to afford good quality food and eat a balanced diet, without having to cut back on other essentials.
Ms. Abrahams commented:[quote]Good quality food is vital to an older person’s health and wellbeing and should not be compromised by the pressures of other household bills.”[/quote]
For those new to claiming Pension Credit, Age UK has published a guide for older people to help them through the process. To order a free copy, claimants can simply call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65, or visit their local Age UK.
Alternatively they can also visit ageuk.co.uk/calculators to calculate how much Pension Credit they may be entitled to, as well as other benefits.