Making ends meet

The cost of living is 73% higher for pensioners living with sight loss


A blind pensioner will spend £135.61 more a week than a sighted neighbour of the same age to maintain a basic standard of living.

Research from the Loughborough University Centre for Research in Social Policy shows that the weekly minimum budget of a severely sight impaired single pensioner is 73% higher than a single pensioner without sight impairment.

The study, which was commissioned by the Thomas Pocklington Trust, also found that sight impaired working age adults faced a greater financial burden when compared with sighted adults in the same age bracket.

The basic cost of living was £120.43 more per week for a working age adult with severe sight impairment when compared to their sighted peers.

Thomas Pocklington Trust research manager, Pamela Lacy, said the research was vital because it revealed the cost that was needed for visually impaired people to participate in society.

“It is crucial that decisions about what is needed are not dictated by those with no experience of sight loss – they must be based on what people with sight loss believe to be important,” she emphasised.

The research found that the additional costs that people with sight loss faced increased with the severity of impairment and an individual’s age.

For pensioners with severe sight loss, half of the extra cost came through extra support in the home. Support included help with cleaning and other domestic tasks and assistance with paperwork.

A greater use of taxis was the main additional transport cost for sight impaired pensioners.

One pensioner with severe sight impairment told researchers: “There isn’t a shop near me so it’s £10 in a taxi before I even buy anything.”

Recreational budgets were also greater among working age and retired individuals with sight loss.

People with sight loss would allow a budget to pay for the meal or a drink of a companion who had accompanied them in activities outside their home. This budget was greatest in severely sight-impaired pensioners.

One pensioner told researchers: “If you are going on holiday and you are severely sight impaired, you have to take somebody with you to be your guide. You can’t walk around in strange places.”

Food budgets also increased among severely sight impaired working age and retired adults. The weekly basic food budget was £9.02 greater for those of working age and £7.97 more for pensioners with a severe sight impairment.

The report noted that while people with a visual impairment were able to prepare food, it could be difficult and time consuming. Both groups purchased some pre-prepared foods, such as pre-cut vegetables or grated cheese.