For millions of people, rising prices and bills are creating worries at Christmastime and into the new year. This is true for Veronica, 83, from London, who discussed her experiences of grappling with the cost of living exclusively with Express.co.uk.
She explained: “The financial side of Christmas is hard, and I try to be careful. Money has lost its value, and the most dreadful part is the fact it’s likely to go on for some time. Where does it end?
“My lighting bill has doubled from month to month, and I just wonder what will happen next with it all.
“Every time you go to buy something, there’s a shock about just how much it has jumped in price.
“It’s extraordinary. I’ve never known anything like it in my whole life.”
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Veronica likened these circumstances to her experiences growing up as a child in post-war Britain.
She continued: “We’re living in really difficult times, I’m 83 and it’s just like the wartime – we just don’t know what is going to happen next.
“We were always brought up to be very stoic and just to get on with things, despite the difficulty.
“My sister and I used to get dressed in a freezing house in front of a small fire, and we were only allowed to put it on whilst getting dressed.
“It’s like being on continuous rationing, and not being able to buy things you need.”
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For Veronica, the cost of living is affecting “every single moment of life”, and she is finding it difficult to balance costs.
She explained she has a constant eye on prices at the petrol pump, on the supermarket shelves, and the bills she receives in the post.
Veronica said: “I’ve always had to be careful with money as I brought two children up on my own, but now I find I’m juggling things – anything I can save on, I do.
“It’s so hard at the moment. It’s very stressful and difficult to deal with – many people don’t know how they’re going to cope.
“I live in a high ceiling studio, and there is a radiator, but on the other side it is very difficult to heat, with no double glazing.
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“Many older people are in a similar situation, and they have to put on additional heating which comes with a cost.
“Then, I’ve also got to be extra careful just like lots of older people who are prone to rheumatic problems exacerbated by the cold. It’s all a challenge.”
However, Veronica attempts to keep busy as much as possible, attending a local group for older people, and recommends socialising as much as possible.
She added: “Just like the wartime, we really need to use these experiences to depend on each other. It’s important to try to have high spirits when things get tough.”
Independent Age has warned many older people are facing a bleak Christmas, as they cut back on essentials to ensure they can buy presents for their loved ones.
Some 47 percent of those asked said they would cut back on heating their homes, while 39 percent said they would spend less on food.
Morgan Vine, head of policy and influencing at Independent Age, said: “It’s extremely alarming that those in later life are being forced to cut back on essentials so they can buy presents for loved ones.
“Older people living in one of the world’s richest nations shouldn’t have to risk damaging their health by reducing the food they eat and using less heating during the coldest months.
“For many, the festive season is something to look forward to, but increasing numbers of older people are being hit from every angle financially.”
Independent Age is encouraging Britons to apply for Pension Credit, a valuable top up which can be worth £3,500 per year.
The “gateway benefit” may also open Britons up to other forms of support including a free TV licence for over 75s, assistance with housing costs and help with healthcare costs.
A DWP spokesperson recently told Express.co.uk: “Pension Credit is designed to provide targeted support for the poorest pensioners and this is why promoting it is a priority. Take-up of Pension Credit improved across all headline measures in 2019/20 and during the week of our recent Pension Credit Day of Action we saw a 275 percent increase in claims.”
“We are also supporting 12 million pensioners across the UK by increasing the state pension by 10.1 percent under the triple lock. It means that from next April the full new state pension will rise to over £10,000 a year for the first time, and the basic state pension will be £3,050 higher than it was in 2010.”