Pensioner poverty remains stubbornly persistent in the UK, affecting 1.6m people living on or below the poverty line and 900,000 people living in severe poverty.
This is despite older people being entitled to benefits designed to increase their income. We know that as many as 1.6m older people who are entitled to Pension Credit are not claiming it - this could mean them receiving an extra £1,700 a year.
That would put food in the cupboards or, in Lily's case, pay the heating bills to keep her warm in winter.
End Pensioner Poverty
Our End Pensioner Poverty campaign raising awareness of the problem of poverty for older people in the UK and calling on local and national Government to take action.
Our campaign report How we can end pensioner poverty (PDF 290 KB - an extract of which is below) gives clear recommendations for politicians and local decision-makers. These range from bringing all pensioners into the new single-tier pension to introducing targets for reducing pensioner poverty.
How you can help
You can support our End Pensioner Poverty campaign by urging your MP to take action. They can represent you and raise these concerns in Parliament. Use our simple tool to send them an email with your own message.
How we can end pensioner poverty
Today, 1.6 million pensioners live on or below the poverty line. Since the turn of the century the number of pensioners living on a low income has fallen considerably. But in recent years progress has stalled. Too many older people in our society are poor and low benefit take-up is a key reason.
Pensioner poverty remains stubbornly persistent, despite older people being entitled to means tested benefits designed to increase their incomes, including Pension Credit. As this report shows, the really big problem is that many older people who are entitled to these ‘top-ups’ to their low incomes never actually receive them. Last year the Age UK network helped to identify £160 million of benefits for older people but we know that many more continue to miss out on the money that is theirs by right.
As a result, hundreds of thousands are struggling to afford basic essentials like fresh food, warm clothes, and heating during the winter. We cannot let this continue in 21st century Britain.
- 1.6 million older people live in poverty, of whom 900,000 are living in severe poverty.
- The latest estimates of take up found that in 2009–10 around a third (up to 1.6 million) of older people who were
entitled to Pension Credit were not claiming it. On average they were missing out on over £1700 a year (£33 a week).
- Up to 2.2 million older people were missing out on help with their council tax bill which, on average would have reduced their annual bill by £728.
- Up to 390,000 more older people could have claimed Housing Benefit to reduce their rent by an average of £48 a week.
As this report shows, these sums could make a huge difference to an older person’s quality of life.
Age UK's calls to action
Age UK wants to see a world where no older person is trapped in the day-to-day grind of living in poverty.
The Government needs a new strategy to end pensioner poverty that includes investment in raising older people’s awareness of what they are due; simpler claiming processes and benefit administration; and new initiatives to overcome the barriers older people often face in maximising their income in retirement.
A new Pensioner Poverty Strategy should
- Introduce targets for reducing pensioner poverty.
- Bring all pensioners into the new-single tier pension.
- Put the ‘triple lock’ principle into legislation and extend it to all elements of the State pension.
- Reduce the complexity of the forms that carers have to complete to receive additional financial support.
- Introduce a national training programme for health professionals and local authority staff so they can:
- Identify older people at particular risk of falling into poverty.
- Understand why older people are reluctant to claim.
- Know how to refer older people to independent welfare benefits advice.