A pensioner forced to spend a third of his income on energy bills

Some of the ‘poorest’ pensioners face sky-high bills with little support, one woman has warned.

Julie, who has asked to keep her full name anonymous, expects to pay almost a third of her annual income on bills in January.

The pensioner, 71, is just above the threshold to receive a pension credit – which provides cost of living support for people on low incomes and above the statutory retirement age. The threshold for a one person household is £182.60 per week.

Receipt of the benefit may also entitle retirees to other financial aid, in particular those related to energy and housing.

“The poorest retirees are those with incomes just above this limit,” she said.

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Living in a ‘cold old downstairs flat’, Julie admitted the next few months were going to be ‘quite difficult’ with an income of less than £10,000 a year.

She said: “It’s always a big problem when you have these cliff thresholds, so you’re either on one side or the other.

“I think to be fair it has to be a much more subtle and graduated change. I just particularly want this group of people to be recognized as being in particular difficulty because I very, very rarely hear from them.

However, Julie said she would find a way to “get by” while “living very economically”.

She said: “There are choices I will have to make. There are things I can’t do that I would have done otherwise and some of them are impacting my health.

“I have to think very seriously about whether I can afford a new mattress, which I really need.

“I also really need podiatry which is almost impossible to get on the NHS at the moment, I can’t afford to do it privately.”

Julie hopes to find a way to get through the winter.

“I could do a few trips with my free bus pass while it still exists to get out and about,” she joked.

Stating that she will heat up as little as possible, she added, “I’m really counting the pennies.”

“I know enough to be able to feed myself, hopefully, without spending a lot of money.”

Speaking about others who are also just below the threshold, she added: “There are people with a similar income to mine for whom this situation is much more difficult, as if they were severely disabled. I would really like more recognition for this particular group of people.