Heating and eating - top two concerns for local pensioners

Pensioners in Ballymena have two main concerns, according to a new survey - and it’s a stark choice between heating and eating.

Worries about accessing health and social care have also risen significantly over the last year.

The report, which summarises the findings of the 2013 Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, found that four out of five pensioners are worried about the price of energy, whilst two out of three are worried about meeting the cost of food.

Age Sector Platform, the charity responsible for the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, claims more needs to be done by government and the private sector to ensure those in their later years are not endlessly struggling to make ends meet.

Michael Monaghan, Chair of the NI Pensioners Parliament, said: “The cost of keeping warm in winter has been the top concern of pensioners since the Pensioners Parliament began three years ago; and it is vital that our NI Executive approaches this problem with as much enthusiasm as their counterparts in the UK Parliament.”

“The big energy companies in Great Britain have been probed about their pricing strategies; is it too much to ask our Executive to scrutinise the energy market here and start asking difficult questions? Without a doubt, pensioners across Northern Ireland are awaiting the answers.”

Mr Monaghan continued: “The price of food has come out as the second biggest concern of pensioners here. Since last year, we have been calling on food retailers to consider the introduction of a pensioner discount day which could help older shoppers cope with the rising cost of living and enable them to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.”

“The majority of older people live alone or as part of small households, meaning that special promotions for bulk buying are of no use to them. We will continue our ‘Silver Saver’ campaign and meet with as many food retailers as we can to ensure the cost of food becomes manageable for our older population.”