Blog: Challenge Poverty Week 2021 - Now is the time
Published on 06 October 2021 07:03 AM
Challenge Poverty Week, running from 4th-10th October 2021, is designed to highlight that poverty is a problem we can solve, and to showcase solutions we can all get behind.
The focus often falls on reducing child poverty and, while this is undoubtedly important, the figures are just as shocking at the other end of the age spectrum.
In Scotland we have what is marginally the highest proportion of pensioners in persistent poverty in the UK and this has been rising steadily for several years – from 8% to 12% since 2010. There are around 150,000 pensioners living in relative poverty, the equivalent of the population of Dundee, and many more just on the cusp.
Pensioner poverty is a national scandal that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention, and we’ve got to end it. However, this will not happen overnight and will require action on all fronts and by many people. If we want to make Scotland the best place to grow older, we need to start by ensuring everyone can enjoy a dignified standard of living in later life.
Check in, Cash out
Every year hundreds of millions of pounds in vital financial support go unclaimed by older people in Scotland. This support could be making a real difference to the lives of those on low incomes.
There are a range of reasons why people may not claim, including:
- lack of awareness
- stigma about social security
- the belief the money would be better used to help others
- the claims process involved
- digital exclusion
- not knowing where to find advice and support
Our "Check in, Cash out" campaign aims to raise awareness and increase take-up of the social security available to help older people live well.
If everyone eligible for certain sources of social security support knew about them and claimed them, it stands to reason that pensioner poverty in Scotland would drop dramatically.
That’s why it’s incumbent on all governments, local authorities, public services and charities to support people to access every penny that they are entitled to, irrespective of who administers that fund, and make the process for doing so streamlined and automated.
Anyone who is unsure about their entitlements can call the Age Scotland helpline for a free eligibility check on 0800 12 44 222.
Additional support from Age Scotland
Our series of information guides provide additional support on financial matters and social security – from navigating the benefits maze to tips on managing money in later life. These can be accessed online and paper copies are available to order through our helpline.
Age Scotland also offers free social security training workshops for older people and their carers in Scotland.
The 2-hour online workshops, funded by the Yorkshire Building Society, offer an accessible guide to social security for those over state pension age and their carers - covering the most relevant social security payments for older people, as well as considering why some may feel reluctant to take steps to unlock their entitlements in the first instance and how we might be able to break down those barriers.
Together with the new Attendance Allowance: Completing the form sessions which are also available, these workshops aim to help older people feel better prepared when it comes to handling social security entitlements and confident that they’re not missing out on support.
Working in later life and Planning for your Future
Growing numbers of older people continue working past traditional retirement age, whether that be through choice or necessity if they are not yet in the financial position to retire.
Given that a third of our workforce is aged over 50, a figure that will only grow with an ageing population, we must ensure that there is a strong labour market which supports older people to work for longer if they want and need to – with good pay, conditions and flexible working options.
We know that older workers who lose their jobs are less likely to find a new one, or one at a similar level, than those who are younger than them. This has an immediate impact on pension savings and people nearing retirement age who find themselves in this position may have to start using these savings earlier than planned, living for longer with a lower income.
Our pre-retirement ‘Planning for your Future’ workshops offer older workers the opportunity to think about their finances and how best to prepare for retirement whilst they’re still working.
By thinking about later life money matters now, older people can flag up any additional support they might need rather than worrying about the future.
For more information on our workshops, visit www.age.scot/planningforyourfuture.