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4.5m over-60s can only just afford the basics

Published on 24 January 2012 01:00 PM

Age UK launches new report on poverty as survey shows that 4.5 million people over 60 can only just afford the basics.

New research commissioned by Age UK shows the realities of how older people manage living on a low income as a new poll reveals that over a half (55%) of people aged 60 and over are finding it harder to manage their regular outgoings compared to this time last year.

According to an ICM poll carried out to coincide with the Age UK report 'Living on a Low Income in Later Life' nearly one in ten (9%) people aged 60 and over admit to be either 'finding it quite difficult' or 'really struggling' to manage on their income.

As rising prices squeeze incomes across the country, an estimated 4.5 million of older people (33%) can only just afford to buy the basics.

The new Age UK report is based on interviews and discussion groups, and paints a picture of lives that revolve around making every penny count. All the people interviewed by the researchers talk of cutting back, doing without and making do, while at the same time worrying about the cost of energy bills and buying food.

This is something that is confirmed by the polling as nearly one in seven older people (14%) admit they have gone to bed when they weren't tired to keep warm, and almost the same number (13%) admit to living in just one room to save on heating.

Kettles used to heat water for washing

The report highlights examples of 'making do' such as just using a hob or microwave rather that replacing a broken oven and boiling a kettle for washing rather than heating water in a boiler.

While those interviewed by the report researchers talk of seeking out the best bargains when food shopping and timing their shopping for the end of the day when products are marked down, the supporting polling reveals that around 3.1 million people (23%) aged 60 and over have bought less food than they wanted, and over half of those interviewed (55%) have moved to cheaper brands in the last year.

The survey also says that nearly one in five (18%) of those aged 60 and over would find it difficult to pay an unexpected bill of £150.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK commented: 'Living on a low income is hard work. Currently there are 1.8million people in later life living in poverty, but our polling suggests that many above the official poverty line are finding life hard.

'Older people tend to show a great deal of resilience in managing their money and eke out their income, but this new report demonstrates exactly how emotionally draining it is on for older people to constantly survive on a lower income and  how many are fearful of the future in the current economic climate.'

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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