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Pensioners more likely to be able to absorb economic hit, research finds

Around one in nine of those who have seen costs rise in March said food prices are partly to blame (Aaron Chown/PA)
Around one in nine of those who have seen costs rise in March said food prices are partly to blame (Aaron Chown/PA)

The retired are more likely to be able to deal with an unexpected extra hit to their finances, new official data has revealed as more than eight in 10 adults said they have seen a hike in their cost of living in March.

The Office for National Statistics said pensioners are around half as likely as those in employment to be unable to deal with a one-off £850 bill that comes out of the blue.

In total, 29% of adults reported that their household could not afford such an extra outlay. This was likely to be higher if the person was on a lower income, rented their home, did not have qualifications, or had dependent children.

Those aged between 25 and 34 were the most likely age group to report difficulties with an expense of that size, while people living in the North East were twice as likely to say the expense was unaffordable than those in London.

The study found 83% of adults think their cost of living is increasing in March, which compares to 62% in November.

They were most likely to cite food as a reason for increased costs – 90% of adults said their food shop has risen in price. Gas and electricity bills (79%) and the price of fuel (71%) are other common hits to household finances.

Earlier this year, more than half (51%) of respondents whose costs are going up said they are cutting back on non-essentials.

The survey also found 36% are shopping around more, 34% are using less gas or electricity at home, and 31% are spending less on food and essentials.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, a member of the Government’s High Streets Task Force and ShopAppy founder, said the new data shows the “extreme gravity” of the situation facing people across the country.

She added: “The Government seems completely out of touch with the reality of how hard the cost-of-living crisis is hitting people and the level of anxiety it is causing.

“I am particularly concerned for the small high street retailers we support as many of them are family businesses, meaning they are getting hit by rising business and household costs at the same time.

“Many feel like the walls are closing in on them and more support is needed, especially as many are having to cope with significant levels of debt accrued during the pandemic.”