Labour’s Rachel Reeves has called on the government to “get a grip” and tackle the cost-of-living crisis after new research revealed older people are paying more than twice as much for their energy as the younger generation.
Analysis from the Labour Party showed UK households aged 65 and over spent £15 a week per person on energy bills, compared to £8 for households aged between 30 and 49 and £7 for those under 30.
Commenting on the figures, the Shadow Chancellor said: “With costs of food and fuel soaring, millions are feeling the pinch, with older people feeling the hit from rising energy prices especially hard.
“Labour would immediately cut VAT on domestic energy bills to ease the burden on households during winter.
“Given they’ve just loaded working people with the biggest tax burden in 70 years, this Conservative government should get a grip and tackle this crisis – but instead they just continue to sit back complacently, trapping us in a high-tax, low-growth economy.”
The new figures on energy costs were produced following Labour Party analysis of Office for National Statistics data and House of Commons Library information.
The research also showed that a higher proportion of older people lived in draughtier properties, with 20% of homes where the oldest person was aged 75 or over and 17% of homes where the oldest was aged 60 or over falling into the lowest energy-efficiency bands, compared to 10% of households where no occupants were above 60.
Energy costs and a potential rise in the energy price cap in April are among a group of strains increasingly being felt by older people. Other pressures include the suspension of the triple lock on pensions and rising social care costs leaving many at risk of having to sell their homes.
Labour is calling for the government to use higher-than-expected VAT receipts – owing to rising prices leaving working people paying more in VAT – as the basis for removing VAT from energy bills over winter.
Keir Starmer told Labour conference in September that his party’s “national mission” over the course of a decade would be to ensure every home was “warm, well-insulated and costs less to heat”.
The opposition leader said: “If we are serious about climate change, we will need to upgrade our homes. The Tories inherited plans from Labour to make every new home zero carbon.
“They scrapped them and now we have a crisis in energy prices, emissions from homes have increased and we have the least energy-efficient housing in Europe.”
When Reeves addressed the party conference in Brighton, she pledged to be “Britain’s first green Chancellor” and promised a Labour government would put £28bn of capital investment per year towards the transition to a green economy over the course of a decade.
“I will invest in good jobs in the green industries of the future: giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles; a thriving hydrogen industry; offshore wind with turbines made in Britain; planting trees and building flood defences; keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down; good new jobs in communities throughout Britain,” she said.