Pensioners across the West are being hit hardest by rising prices – with those living in the countryside doing worse than their counterparts in the towns.
Older people are missing out because while prices are soaring and interest rates are low, this reduces the returns on their savings.
With most on fixed incomes, they are being clobbered as well by hikes in food prices and heating bills. And campaigners warn record petrol prices are hitting older people in the West especially hard, as those living in remote rural areas rely so heavily on their cars.
The region does especially badly because it has the country’s highest proportion of pensioners, with the population living longer than elsewhere, and the South West a popular retirement destination.
While the Government says inflation is at 2.5 per cent, older people are seeing their cost of living increasing much faster, according to Saga.
The organisation calculates that price rises for the over-75 age group were 2.9 per cent last month, rather than 2.5 per cent. And it estimates since the collapse of Northern Rock five years ago triggered the financial crisis, the cost of living for those over 65 has gone up by more than 22 per cent, compared with 16.8 per cent for the population as a whole.
Ken Lacey, chairman of Weston’s Senior Citizen’s Forum, told the Daily Press the findings proved what he has believed for years.
He said: “We spend most of our money on food and heating, we don’t buy gizmos.
“Electrical goods, televisions and so on, have come down in price and that is what is keeping inflation down.
“But food, petrol and utilities, gas and electricity – they are going through the roof.
“So when people say inflation is only 2.5 per cent, I have a wry smile as it is nowhere near what pensioners are paying at the check-out or on the utilities.”
Mr Lacey this week presented a petition to Weston Tory MP John Penrose expressing concern over pensions issues.
He is worried about using consumer, rather than retail prices to calculate state pension increases, cutting the winter fuel allowance by £11, rises in stamp prises and freezing higher personal tax allowances for the over 65s.
“Any further changes in the basic pension must be upwards,” he said.
Mr Penrose promised to pass on the petition to Pensions Minister Steve Webb, the Thornbury & Yate MP, to ensure he understood how local people felt.
“Even though higher personal tax allowances have been frozen, people will still be miles better off because we’ve introduced the ‘triple lock’ which means pensions will go up by the higher of wage inflation, price inflation or 2.5 per cent a year,” Mr Penrose added.
“It should stop pensions being eroded at a stroke.”
The Bank of England yesterday admitted the outlook for inflation is worse than previously expected, and does not expect the squeeze in incomes to ease any time soon.
Droughts in the US are likely to mean higher food prices, while more energy price hikes are in the pipeline this autumn, with higher university fees also adding to inflation next month.