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Poorest pensioners ‘buy less food to cover heating costs’

Report shows the human cost of rising fuel prices

Pound on gas hob

The poorest pensioners have cut the amount they spend on food in order to help cover heating costs, according to a new report from The Institute of Fiscal Studies.

The IFS found that spending on fuel increased by 7% in pensioner households during a cold snap. Although the increase in fuel spending remained constant across all households, the poorest quarter also reduced their food spending by the same amount. 

Energy price increases

This news comes just a day after Scottish Power announced that it was raising gas prices by 19% and electricity prices by 10%. The company claimed that rising wholesale prices were partly to blame for the rises, and Which? expects other energy companies to follow suit. 

As the report suggests a tough choice for some pensioners between food and fuel, this could leave many vulnerable consumers facing a difficult choice this winter.

Improve energy tariffs

Which? energy campaigner Erica Jobson says: ‘It’s shocking that so many people face such a harsh choice. Which? research shows that the cost of energy is the number one financial concern for households and this really does show the extent of their worries.’

Which? is currently campaigning for simpler tariffs, to make it easier for consumers to switch energy companies and get a better deal. 

‘With so many tariffs available and price hikes from the different companies frequently being announced, switching gas and electricity tariffs is a confusing business. Too many choices is no choice at all, which is why we are calling for simpler tariffs.’

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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