Our report 'Life on a low income' has cast new light on what life is like for older people in poverty in Wales.
Based on research and real life examples of the situations that face some people in retirement, the report paints a picture of stark compromises and tough choices. Some people really do face a choice between heating and eating during the winter, while others do not eat a satisfying meal each day because they cannot afford to.
In Wales, an estimated 84,000 older people live in poverty, with 50,000 of those in ‘severe’ poverty. This means a weekly income of just £183.50 or less. This is far from the stereotype of a generation who have done well out of a growing economy and rising house prices.
Unfortunately, as the examples throughout the Live on a low income report show, poverty and financial hardship are a daily reality for many older people in Wales.
This situation is preventable. Information and advice services, supported by welfare benefits advice, can make a substantial difference to the lives of older people. Up to a third of available financial support for older people goes unclaimed and pensioner poverty could be substantially reduced if this changed.
As the report shows, the services provided by Age Cymru locally and nationally are a lifeline for many and have improved people’s lives, delivering £13 million in extra entitlements in 2012/13.
We believe more should be done by the Welsh Government and local authorities to make sure these services are available to all older people across Wales. This is one of 6 key areas of improvement highlighted in Life on a low income.