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Suffolk: Report shows pensioners plight

PUBLISHED: 09:21 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 06 July 2010

OLDER people in Suffolk are skipping meals and putting their health at risk in a bid to survive the economic downturn, it has emerged.

A leading charity has published their research today showing older people in the East of England are facing extreme hardship, as low interest rates and rising prices impact negatively on low incomes.

OLDER people in Suffolk are skipping meals and putting their health at risk in a bid to survive the economic downturn, it has emerged.

A leading charity has published their research today showing older people in the East of England are facing extreme hardship, as low interest rates and rising prices impact negatively on low incomes.

Age Concern and Help the Aged have called on the government to address the issues currently crippling older generations in the Budget due to be announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling this month.

The research has shown a quarter of all people aged 60 or over in the East of England are skipping a meal to save money, thereby putting their health at risk, causing nutritional deficiencies.

And two fifths are struggling to afford essential items. Just under half of older people are cutting back on socialising, 38pc are reducing their use of electricity and 34pc are cutting back on the amount of gas they use.

Daphne Savage, chief executive of Age Concern Suffolk, said: “Older people have been disproportionately hit by the recession. Many who relied on the interest from savings as part of their retirement income have seen that interest disappear.

“Even worse, they are dipping into those savings to support their income and therefore will have less money on which to earn interest when the rates eventually go up again.”

Confidence in the Labour government has plummeted as the research revealed two thirds of people surveyed are not confident the government will help older people cope with the recession.

But Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said the government cannot sit back and ignore the problem.

“Many older people in the East of England are being clobbered by high prices and are being pushed to extreme measures to cope financially - the Government cannot sit by while older people skip meals and put their health at risk,” she said.

“The oldest and poorest pensioners are being hit particularly hard.”

The charity is calling on Gordon Brown's government to remember older voters ahead of the Budget due to be announced on April 22.

In an attempt to help struggling pensioners cope with the downturn, the charity is today launching its campaign, More Money in Your Pocket to ensure older people receive the benefits that are rightfully theirs.

Every year the charity puts more than £100 million back in older people's pockets by helping them to claim everything they are owed.

For more information on the service, please call the Age Concern Suffolk advice line on 01449 674222.

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