Debt leaving pensioners cold

The study shows that more than a third of people aged over 65 living on the lowest household incomes saw a tenth of their income eaten up by fuel bills.

Over a quarter of pensioners said that paying council tax meant they had to cut back on heating or food, or they would get themselves deep into debt.

Those living in deprived or rural areas are most affected. Of the 2.8 million rural households that are off the gas mains network, 14 per cent are “fuel poor”.

The investigation comes after a year of increases in fuel prices have left many pensioners unable to pay essential bills. Figures from the report also show that 13 per cent of pensioners have had to cut back on their hobbies and socialising as part of their debt management.

Statistics from Help the Aged show that since 2000, 160,000 elderly people have died from cold-related illnesses, a figure far higher than other European countries such as Sweden, which has a comparable climate.

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