Official figures showed the 1.4million owing in 2010 rose to 1.95million by 2020. Data from the Office for National Statistics also said the proportion of over-65s in debt rose from 12 to 16 percent from 2012 to 2016. The Labour Party research is likely to raise concern that many pensioners had been struggling financially before this year’s cost-of-living squeeze struck.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said PM Boris Johnson had “no credible plan to help retired people with rocketing heating bills and price rises”.
Mr Ashworth said it would be a “bleak, tough year for retired people”. He said Labour would save OAPs up to £600 a year by scrapping winter energy bill VAT and offering targeted extra help.
The research follows separate data earlier this year, showing pensioners already pay twice as much for energy as those under 30.
It means older households face being hardest hit by the 54 percent rise in the Ofgem energy bills cap due in April.
Under the change, a typical household including at least one person over 65 will face an increase of around £700 a year.
Labour’s analysis also said the basic state pension would be worth hundreds of pounds less – a real-terms fall of about £355 for a couple – over the next year.
The party claims the actual cut is more than the amount ministers are handing out to reduce households’ energy bills.
A government spokeswoman said: “We’re providing support worth around £12billion this financial year and next to help households with the cost of living.
“A further £9billion was recently announced by the Chancellor to protect against the impact of rising global energy prices.”
She said the figures showed there were 200,000 fewer pensioners in absolute poverty, both before and after housing costs, compared with 2009/10.
The spokeswoman added: “From April, the full yearly amount of the basic state pension will be over £2,300 higher than in 2010.”