Poor pensioners worse off

Single pensioners who only have their state pension to live on are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, says household spending watchdog Nibud.

According to Nibud, these pensioners used to spend 42% of their income on rent, energy, water, telephone and health insurance in 2000 but this is now 50.1%. Retired couples on a state pension now spend 43% of their income on these fixed costs, up from 34% six yeasr ago. The basic state pension (AOW) is € 923 for a single person and € 1,270 for a couple. Nibud warned that an increasing number of pensioners are getting into debt. And although pensioners can ask for various forms of assitance such as housing benefit and help with health insurance costs, they are reluctant to do so. Nibud: ‘These benefits have to be asked for and some elderly people find it difficult to ask for help.’ In the 2007 budget proposals presented last month, the government announced basic pensions would go up by around € 50 a year.
Meanwhile all the main political parties have pledged to keep the retirement age at its current level of 65 after the next election. But Labour (PvdA) wants wealthier pensioners – with a private pension of over € 15,000 a year – to continue to pay state AOW premiums in an effort to keep down their cost.

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