Research by the charity Independent Age has highlighted the struggles of older tenants who are reliant on benefits to pay their housing and living costs, with campaigners demanding a rent freeze to prevent an upsurge in evictions.
There are 382,000 households in the private sector headed by a person aged 65 or older, and 1 million in the social rented sector. Many of these are living on fixed incomes, with recent rent rises outstripping pension increases and housing benefit levels remaining frozen at 2020 levels.
Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy director of the campaigning group Generation Rent, responded to the survey findings, saying “We need a freeze on rents and another suspension of evictions to protect tenants during this crisis.”
The charity’s research found almost two-thirds of older tenants have cut back on their general spending as a result of the cost of living crisis. Older people who do not own their homes are particularly vulnerable to rising bills.
Some 62 per cent of renters over 65 were having to cut back on their general spending and a quarter said they would not be able to afford a £10-a-month increase in their living costs, while 71 per cent said they would not be able to cover a £50 rise. More than half said they felt anxious about their finances.
Independent Age’s survey of 2,000 adults in England over 65, of whom 391 were renting, found 57 per cent of tenants were cutting back on heating, 42 per cent said they had reduced how much food and drink they were buying and 29 per cent were buying less vehicle fuel.
Morgan Vine, the Independent Age head of policy, says older renters are “left in increasingly precarious financial situations” and need help and protection from the Government.
“Our research found that older renters are one of the most at risk groups of dropping into poverty past state pension age and are more likely to experience long-term poverty,” she said. “We also know older renters are at increased risk of living in poor-quality homes and face higher costs and greater financial insecurity than other groups.”
Vine says older renters have shared their concerns with the charity about high rents and that their landlord could sell up at any time. “With the cost of living crisis squeezing people’s budgets from every angle, these worries are only going to get worse,” she warned.
Patrick Mooney, Editor