Age Scotland has warned that 220,000 older households will struggle to cover essential spending this year.
Analysis from Age Scotland’s sister charity, Age UK, has shown that the poorest older households in Scotland will need to increase the percentage of their net income spent on essential expenses substantially.
While most spent 70% of their net income on essential goods and services between 2021 and 2022, that amount is projected to increase to 87% between 2022 and 2023.
Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the proportion of older people reporting an increase in their cost of living over the previous month has been steadily increasing since November 2021.
The charity has warned the “scandalous” financial pressure on older households will become even harder to bear as outgoing costs continue to rise.
Age Scotland’s Help to Turn Up the Heat report, released in March 2022, showed that 94% of older people were worried about their energy bills.
The charity’s chief executive, Brian Sloan said: “With costs continuing to increase and given the UK Government’s decision to pause the triple lock on pensions, the situation is becoming increasingly desperate.
“It’s scandalous that so many older households are being left with no choice but to switch off their heating and reduce the amount of food they buy or risk falling into debt due to unmanageable bills.
“Huge numbers of older people are reliant on the State Pension and social security to survive, or live on low and fixed incomes, so the coming months are going to be incredibly tough as the bills keep mounting.”
The charity has criticised the lack of support for older households from the government and called for “further action”.
Another major issue facing older people in poverty is loneliness and shame, according to debt-help charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Scotland.
A recent survey conducted by the charity showed that while clients had been lonely and isolated during pandemic restrictions, the numbers worsened after they were eased.
The Mental Health Foundation identifies debt as creating a considerable burden, made worse by dealing with it alone.
A study from the Royal College of Psychiatrists also found that half of all adults with a debt problem are also living with mental ill-health.
CAP Scotland’s national director, Emma Jackson said: “For many of us, the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland meant an end to isolation, but for thousands of low-income households struggling with problem debt and poverty, the isolation and loneliness they feel is actually getting worse due to the cost-of-living crisis and mounting debts.
“Struggling with the burden of problem debt by yourself can lead to other serious mental health challenges. I’d say to anyone out there, don’t suffer alone and in isolation.”