23 November 2023

The annual report from the Centre of Ageing Better highlights the diversity and disparities within the older populations of the country, in areas such as wellbeing and financial security. 

Earlier this week, the Centre for Ageing Better released their annual State of Ageing report, which signals a looming threat to the five decades of progress made in reducing pensioner poverty. The comprehensive findings highlight a concerning trend of financial struggles among both current and approaching generations of retirees. 

The report discloses that individuals aged 60-64 now exhibit the highest rate of relative poverty among UK adults, standing at 25%. Furthermore, the average annual income of the poorest 20% of retired individuals falls below the minimum required for basic living expenses.  

This leaves the most economically vulnerable retirees, including those solely dependent on the state pension, with an estimated £41 for a weekly food shop and insufficient funds for essential expenses like car maintenance or boiler servicing. 

The report also explained that millions endure health-detrimental conditions in homes that are cold, damp, and pose hazards. The cost-of-living crisis forces many older individuals to limit heating, exacerbating the impact of living in poor-quality homes, and of the 3.5 million ‘non-decent’ homes in England, almost half (49%) are occupied by individuals aged 55 or over, affecting approximately 2.6 million in this age group. 

There are significant health inequalities in the older communities with individuals in the most deprived areas facing double the years of ill-health at age 65 compared to their counterparts in the least deprived areas, even though their overall life expectancy is shorter. Health outcomes also vary significantly based on ethnicity, wealth, and geographical location.  

Dr Carole Easton OBE, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “The story of pensioner poverty over the last 50 years has been broadly positive. Pensioners in the 1960s experienced by far the highest rates of poverty in society, fortunately that is no longer the case. But we should never take this progress for granted and the trends from our new State of Ageing report show that it is very much under threat now.  

“The factors behind this as are not yet entirely clear though the pandemic has undoubtedly played its part. Not only is the cost-of-living crisis causing many current pensioners to cut back on food, heating, showers and going to the dentist; it is significantly limiting the ability of the next generations of pensioners from paying into their pensions and savings, potentially creating the conditions for greater pensioner poverty in the future.   

“This is why we are calling for a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing to ensure that policymakers are planning for our ageing population and considering the needs of the poorest and most disadvantaged older people, both among the current retired generation and future generations of retirees. Poverty in retirement should not be considered an inevitability, we need to ensure the progress of the last half a century is not lost.”  

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