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Eradication of pensioner poverty by no means 'job done' says Age UK

Published on 01 September 2017 12:01 AM

Eradication of pensioner poverty by no means 'job done' says Age UK as 1 in 4 older people - nearly 3 million - admit it's a struggle financially.

Latest research from Age UK finds that nearly three million (2,825,000) over-65s - one in four - are finding life a struggle financially.

Meanwhile the latest Government figures show that 800,000 pensioners are living in ‘material deprivation' which refers to an inability even to afford the basics.

Last year the number of pensioners living below the poverty line rose to 1.9m and Government statistics show that among the over-65s:

  • Over a million (1,181,400) would be unable to meet an unexpected expense of £200
  • Almost a million (945,100) would be unable to replace a cooker if it broke down
  • 708,800 are unable to keep their homes damp free
  • More than half a million (572,600) are unable to keep their homes adequately warm
  • 286,300 are unable to pay regular bills
  • Well over a million (1,299,600) have no access to a car and can't afford a taxi.

As Age UK releases a new briefing on ‘Poverty in Later Life', explaining what poverty is and what it means in practice, the Charity is urging older people who are worried about their finances to get in touch so they can find out if they are entitled to help.

Calls to Age UK Advice, the Charity's national advice line, show just how tough it is to get by if you are a pensioner on a tight budget:

  • A woman contacted Age UK about her 80-year old relative who was sleeping in a downstairs room because it was too expensive to put the central heating on. The gas fire was then disconnected because there was a smell of gas. The relative was also in arrears and could not afford the cost of a new fire and the fitting.
  • A sheltered housing resident in her 70s living on a low income wanted help to get a new washing machine. She had been turned down by a local authority welfare scheme and was having to wash everything by hand which was causing her a lot of pain.

Research has shown that people in advanced older age, who are single, and/or who rent their homes rather than own them are at increased risk of living in poverty:

  • 19% of all 80 to 84 year olds and 21% of those aged 85+ are in poverty compared to only 13% of 65-69 year olds
  • 20% of single pensioners live in poverty compared to 13% of couples
  • 33% of private tenants and 29% of social rented tenants.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "Today we are at risk as a society of blithely assuming that every older person is comfortably off, but these new figures show that to be way off the mark. In fact the most recent Age UK research suggests that one in four are finding it a struggle to manage, adding up to approaching three million pensioners in all. With so many older people worried about being hard up it is certainly not ‘job done' when it comes to ending pensioner poverty.

'Trying to make ends meet on a low income is a big challenge at any age, but if you are an older person living on your own who is praying your ageing television somehow keeps going, because you know there is no way you'll ever be able to afford to replace it, life becomes especially grim.

'Yet despite so many pensioners struggling financially, as much as £3.5 billion in financial help is going unclaimed by older people every year when this extra income could make a real difference to their peace of mind. That's why we would urge any older person who is worried about money to get in touch with Age UK by calling our advice line free of charge on 0800 169 6565 or by visiting www.ageuk.org.uk for free information and advice.'

The Charity publishes a range of free guides to help people navigate the benefits system and has trained advisers on hand all year round to offer support. Its annually updated More money in your pocket guide is specifically designed to help older people claim the benefits to which they are entitled, including Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, and help towards paying council tax. In addition many older disabled people could receive extra support by claiming the non-means-tested Attendance Allowance. The Charity also publishes mini-guides including Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance and Council Tax.

To order a free copy of any of Age UK's guides, or for further information and advice on any issue, people can call Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters, where there is also an online personalised benefits calculator to help people find out exactly what they are owed, quickly and easily.

-ENDS-

Ref: lfswjvca

Media contact: Helen Spinney and Anne-Marie Doohan

Email: helen.spinney@ageuk.org.uk and anne-marie.doohan@ageuk.org.uk

Tel: 020 3033 1430

Out of hours: 07071 243 243

Notes to editors

(i)TNS polling for Age UK, March 2017 - sample of 1,333 people aged 65+ in GB. "Struggling" is defined here as the aggregated answers 'Just about getting by', 'Finding it quite difficult' and 'Finding it very difficult'.

(ii)Households below average income 1994/5 - 2015/16, DWP, March 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-199495-to-201516

‘Material deprivation' - this is based on whether people lack what most people regard as necessities such as a warm waterproof coat or a damp free home. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has used material deprivation questions as part of its measure of child poverty for some time and has included a measure of material deprivation among pensioners in the HBAI reports published from 2011 onwards.

(iii)Households below average income 1994/5 - 2015/16, DWP, March 2017. The poverty figures in this release are based on the most commonly used UK definition which is to say that someone is in poverty if they live in a household with an income below 60 per cent of the current median (or typical) household income, after housing costs, and adjusted for household size.

(iv)Households below average income 1994/5 - 2015/16, DWP, March 2017. Age UK calculations based on UK population estimates and percentages in HBAI report.

(v)Ibid

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well-being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity)

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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