New data reveals impact of cost-of-living crisis as we brace for coldest December in a decade
Latest ONS data reveals that 31% more over 50s are reducing energy use because of cost-of-living concerns compared to a year ago.
The fact that older people are struggling financially despite short-term government support highlights the need for more radical, sustained solutions, says our Chief Executive Carole Easton.
As the country heads into what some are predicting to be the coldest December in more than a decade, the Centre for Ageing Better warns that the ability of many older households to cope is being pushed to the limit.
Consumer behaviours have changed dramatically over the past year as the cost of living has skyrocketed. And new ONS data released today shows older age groups are being hit especially hard with notable changes in their own sense of financial security since last winter:
- 78% of over 50s say their cost-of-living has increased in the past month compared to 71% in November 2021.
- 50% of 50-69 year olds and 47% of over 70s reported that they would be unable to save any money in the coming twelve months compared to 35% for both age groups in November 2021.
- 75% of people aged 50-69 and 67% of over 70s are now using less fuel at home in response to rising living costs compared to 57% of people aged 50-69 and 52% of over 70s this April.
- In today’s ONS release, 48% of 50–69 year olds said they’d had to spend more than usual on their regular shop compared to 41% of 50–69 year olds in April.
The ONS data indicates that older generations are being particularly affected by the cost-of-living crisis. The proportion of 50–69 year olds and over 70s cutting back on their fuel use at home now stands at 12 and 4 percentage points higher than the average across all age groups of 63%.
This is particularly worrying given the Chartered Institute of Housing’s finding that more than 60% of over 65s live in England’s least energy-efficient homes and we know that cold homes can have serious implications for people’s health. The numbers of older people living in energy inefficient homes is not surprising. The UK has some of the oldest housing stocks in Europe.
Carole Easton, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“This latest data shows that millions of older people are now facing significant struggles with the cost of living and the numbers are growing steadily as we head into winter.
“The government has offered unprecedented levels of support to help people meet their energy costs but such is the scale of the crisis, today’s data indicates that this short term support still doesn’t go far enough with people still cutting back on energy use and still facing significant financial concerns.
“Sky-high living costs are affecting all age groups across the country with different generations each facing particular challenges. But the data shows older people are finding the crisis more challenging than other age groups.
“The cost of energy is forcing many older people to significantly limit how much they heat their homes. But as temperatures plummet to as low as -10C, these choices are likely to have sharp health consequences. Around 10,000 people died in cold homes in previous winters when the cost of energy was nowhere near as high as now.
“People are paying with their health and lives as a result of the lack of investment to ensure that our nation’s homes are warm and safe. We have been found ill-prepared for this, or future winter crises and the impact on our ageing population. But significant and large-scale action taken now could help to ensure that we avoid a repeat of this situation in winters to come.
“A national retrofit programme would tackle the roots causes of this crisis – our country’s inefficient housing stock. To effectively deliver this programme, every community should have an independent, one-stop-shop offering trusted advice and support to help people make their homes warmer and safer.
“Bringing the standard of the nation’s housing up and the cost of energy bills down will benefit people of all age groups across the country. But for those most at-risk from unsafe homes, people who are poorer, older or Disabled, it could mean the difference between life or death.”