Around one in four pensioners living in the UK are struggling to make ends meet, with nearly three million older people finding life to be a financial struggle, new research from Age UK reveals.
According to the charity’s research, 2,825,000 people over the age of 65 are struggling to manage financially, contrary to claims in some sections of the media that pensioners are somehow having ‘an easy time’.
Last year the number of pensioners living below the poverty line, on incomes of less than £288 per week, rose to 1.9 million. Despite previous improvements in tackling pensioner poverty, government figures show the number of over-65’s living below the poverty line is back up to 2008-09 levels.
Government statistics also show that among over-65’s:
- 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.
However, it is estimated that around £3.5 billion in Pension Credit and Housing Benefit (alone) remains unclaimed by over-65’s every year.
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.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “By introducing the triple lock and protecting the poorest through Pension Credit, we have reduced pensioner poverty close to historically low levels, lifting the incomes of millions of older people.
”Other support, such as winter fuel payments, should give older people the assurance that they can turn up their heating when they need to, without the fear of an unaffordable bill.“