Charities unite for campaign to help pensioners in poverty

Age Concern and the Royal British Legion have joined forces for a campaign calling on the Government to bring pensioners out of poverty.

The charity for army veterans wants the personal expense allowance for care home residents to be doubled, war pensioners to be made exempt from means testing for disability grants and access to council tax benefit for older people to be improved.

Age Concern has provided research and publicity for the Return to Rationing? campaign.

The charities argue that many older people's incomes are so low that they are forced to live in financial conditions similar to those in the days of wartime rationing. A spokeswoman for the campaign said it wanted to raise the standard of living for all pensioners on low incomes, not only war veterans.

A recent Mori poll found that more than a third of retired soldiers are living on less than the minimum income for healthy living, currently set at £7,072 for a single person and £11,200 for a couple.

The Royal British Legion said many older people were unaware of the financial support available to them or how to access it.

"We all thought rationing was history," said Chris Simpkins, director of the Royal British Legion. "But we were wrong. Even the Chancellor says we're facing the worst economic climate in 60 years and this has a crushing impact on older people. The Government must give them the help they deserve."

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