East Lothian Courier – 22 February 2024


Over my lifetime great progress had been made in addressing pensioner poverty. It had never entirely gone away but it was vastly reduced from my childhood when looking after the pensioners was essential given the hardship so many faced.  

But now pensioner poverty is coming back and with a vengeance. Of course, many of the “baby boomer” generation have done extremely well. The sacrifices made by our parents and past generations saw unprecedented quality of life for so many born after the Second World War.  

But some have been left behind as others have flourished. They’re now facing great hardship as the cost of energy and cost of living worsen. Statistics provided by Age UK showed that almost a third (29%) of over 60s found their house too cold almost all of the time. Almost half (49%) were worried about the impact of energy bills on their health and 47% worried about being able to afford wider essentials like food.  

Not only were many cutting back but a staggering 40% were feeling anxious about energy bills. It’s why there has to be a social tariff for energy. It’s not just the impact on health through the cold but well-being through worry and anxiety. It’s also essential not just for the elderly but the vulnerable whether through illness or poverty that one is brought in.  

But the pension also requires addressed. Many are fortunate to have a private pension or work one. That can alleviate hardship but those dependent solely on the state pension are struggling. It’s one of the poorest in Europe and that’s to our great shame. 

It’s also why continuing with failed Tory economics isn’t going to work. Removing a government that’s incompetent and verging on the corrupt’ s long overdue. But it’s not just the individuals but their policies that need changed. 

There’s great wealth in this country but it’s shared unfairly. That many pensioners are now facing paying tax is absurd. Thresholds need to rise so that it’s the very wealthy that pay and assets such as land and offshore accounts must be taxed is likewise essential.