Warning as triple lock hike ‘swallowed up’ in ‘horrendous’ winter for state pensioners | Personal Finance | Finance

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Around 12.4 million pensioners will see their state pension increase by 10.1 percent next April, after Hunt confirmed the government will implement the triple lock in 2023/24. That’s good news but will only partly compensate for suspending the mechanism this year.

Pensioner Sheila, 80, from Lincolnshire welcomed the inflation-linked hike but warned: “It’ll all be swallowed up by the rocketing cost of living.”

She said the extra money will vanish due to the higher cost of everyday essentials, Sheila said. “It might just cover my extra food costs, but it won’t cover my gas and electricity bills, or anything else for that matter.”

Sheila, who worked all her adult life in a number of jobs, ranging from air hostess to legal secretary, says the government doesn’t care about pensioners.

Millions are still suffering from the decision to suspend the triple lock for the current tax year.

That handed state pensioners an increase of just 3.1 percent, while inflation hit a staggering 11.7 per cent in the year to October.

Sheila is in a fight to stop herself from freezing.

Inflation is tough on pensioners because most of their money goes on essentials like energy, where prices have doubled in the last year, while food costs rose 16.5 percent.

Sheila’s gas direct debit has doubled. “These energy companies make billions of pounds each month, and none of them care about pensioners,” she said.

Widower Sheila, whose husband died of asbestos-related cancer 30 years ago, has no family to help out.

She retired age 67 on the basic state pension and also claims means-tested top-up pension credit, which lifts a single person’s income to £182.60 a week.

That is a huge help but nowhere near enough. “I can’t afford to turn the heating on. I didn’t do it last winter, and I won’t do it this one, either.”

Sheila is lucky in one respect. She has kept herself fit and jogs regularly.

READ MORE: State pension blow as expert warn ‘it’s a benefit not a right’

Instead of turning on her heating last winter, Sheila kept herself warm by going out for a run with her dog almost every day.

She normally runs over 10km and up to 20km on Sundays, but recognises her unusual strategy won’t work for most people of her age. “I worry about pensioners who are frail and have to stay at home all day with the heating on. Life must be horrendous for them.”

Life’s little luxuries are out, though. Sheila doesn’t buy meat or fish. She has tried growing her own vegetables and cooks every meal from scratch, to avoid waste. “I can only afford to wash my hair once a fortnight, as the cost of shampoo has doubled.”

Sheila is also horrified at the impact of the cost of living crisis on area shops and businesses. “Every time I go to the high street, another shopfront is boarded up.”

She is furious at the politicians who have created today’s mess. “I’d love to see MPs live on what we do for a year. They couldn’t manage it.”

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Millions of pensioners are facing similar struggles, said Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK.

“Restoring the triple lock, uprating pension credit in line with inflation and cost of living payments, are all extremely important for older people. We welcome them wholeheartedly.”

They are particularly important for hundreds of thousands of older women like Sheila. “These are really difficult times for millions living on a low income.”

Many are waiting endlessly for social care so they can get home from hospital, or in a long queue for a minor operation on the NHS while suffering pain.

Abrahams warned. “Life will continue to be extremely tough for many older people, especially this winter.”

Jogging works for Sheila. It’s not a solution for most people, though. 

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