Pensioners aged 75 and over are on average £59 a week worse off than younger pensioners, according to a worrying new report from the charity Independent Age.
The report (pdf), which examines the financial circumstances faced by older people who lived through the second world war, also shows that older pensions are living on £112 a week less than working age adults.
Half of older pensioners have a disability or live with someone who is disabled, the report says.
The charity’s report has been published to counter stereotypes of ‘wealthy pensioners’, and reveals how income inequality can continue from working age and into retirement.
According to the report, an estimated 950,000 (20%) of older pensioners are living below the poverty line, with almost a quarter (24%) of these having no savings at all.
Within this age group 23% of women, 24% of single pensioners and almost one in four are private sector tenants in poverty.
There are currently around 11.8 million pensioners in the UK who rent from a private landlord, with around a third of these being 75 years of age or older.
Older pensioners are also more likely to experience persistent poverty, but less likely to claim Pension Credit than younger pensioners.
An estimated three-quarters of a million pensioners aged 75 and over are failing to claim the Pension Credit they are entitled to, but are instead left struggling to make ends meet on State Pension and other pensioner benefits.
They will also miss out on the new State Pension, because it only applies to those who reached retirement age on or after 6 April 2016.
Independent Age has called on the Government to help increase the take-up of Pension Credit among older people living in poverty.
The charity also says the value of Pension Credit should be subject to it own ‘triple lock’, rising in-line with average earnings as with State Pension, to prevent poorer pensioners from falling into even deeper financial distress.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said: “These findings show how misleading it is to treat all 11.8 million pensioners in this country as one group.
“It would be foolish to assume that inequality simply ceases to exist at retirement age, but that is exactly what some of the recent rhetoric around ‘intergenerational unfairness’ does.
“The Silent Generation of older pensioners, renters and single women have missed out on many of the gains of recent years. This is the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ generation that lived through the Second World War.
“The older people we spoke to as part of this research talked about ‘keeping a brave face’, ‘cutting their cloth’ and not wanting to ask for help. There is a real risk that this generation will be forgotten and left to suffer in silence.”
Dr Matt Barnes from the Department of Sociology, City University London, who worked on the report with Independent Age, said: “It’s all too easy to take the narrative about wealthy Baby Boomers and apply it to all pensioners. But this report shows that just doesn’t hold true.
“There are huge variations in incomes of pensioners, with hundreds of thousands of older pensioners living below the poverty line.”