MP Jenny Willot struggled to walk a mile in a UK pensioner’s shoes as part of a challenge proposed by AXA Insurance’s pension awareness campaign.
The 35 year-old Cardiff Central MP tried last week to live on the basic UK pension of £95.25 a week, a bid which saw her turn her heating down, sacrifice her much loved Starbucks coffee, avoid magazines and develop a new found appreciation for the challenges faced by UK state pensioners.
The Liberal Democrat MP shared her experience on Twitter where she expressed her frustration with eating the third same meal in three days; baked potato, cottage cheese and coleslaw, and a newfound “obsession” with food became evident.
Ms Willot explained that the experience had heavily reinforced her conviction that the country’s pension system needed a through revamp.
She found that while it was possible to survive from day today, buying Christmas presents or having your car break down were challenges she didn’t know how to overcome with the lack of “slack” offered by the meagre state pension.
Moreover, the experience helped the MP realise how big a sacrifice having a pet companion is for pensioners as her own cat “completely scuppered” her budget for the week.
The MP concludes that state pensions need to be improved and means testing for pensions should be abandoned to encourage people to save more and rely less on their state pensions.
The challenge undertaken by the MP is part of the AXA pension awareness campaign. She was one of 14 who took part and it certainly opened her eyes to the way that state pensions are letting down the UK’s retirement community.