Progress in reducing pensioner poverty is backwards, according to Age UK

One in five women – or about 1.25 million – live in poverty and progress in alleviating the hardships of old age has been reversed, a new study finds.

Fewer retired men are struggling financially in old age, but one in six, or around 860,000, is also badly off.

Age UK has released a report on the poverty of older people – defined as having incomes below 60% of typical household income – as MPs were scheduled to debate the controversial suspension of the triple lockdown of pensions today. State.

The difficulties of retirement: single retired elderly women are much more at risk of poverty than single men or people in a couple

The state pension, the foundation of retirement income for many people, normally increases by the highest level of price inflation, average income growth, or 2.5 percent.

The government removed the profits portion of its triple lockdown pledge this year because wage growth temporarily climbed to 8.3% due to distortions caused by the pandemic.

Analysis of DWP data by Age UK found that the proportion of retired women living in poverty increased by six percentage points, from 14% in 2012/13 to 20% in 2019/20.

Among men, the proportion of poor people increased by four percentage points to 16 percent in the same seven years.

Overall, 18% or 2.1 million retirees are on the verge of hunger, according to the charity.

However, single retired senior women are at a much higher risk of being in poverty at 27 percent, compared to 23 percent of single men and 13 percent of people in couples.

The report shows the The increase in the legal retirement age for women has led to a drop in the number of retired women by around 800,000 since 2012-13, from 7.1 million to 6.3 million.

However, the number of people living in poverty increased by around 260,000, from 990,000 to 1.25 million.

Meanwhile, retirees from black and Asian communities are much more likely to live in poverty than white retirees – 33% of Asians and 30% of blacks struggle to make ends meet, compared to 16% of whites.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Work and Pensions said: “We are committed to taking measures that help reduce poverty levels among retirees.

“Our revolutionary pension reforms, including automatic enrollment, have helped millions more women save for retirement, many for the first time.

“The participation in pensions of eligible women working in the private sector increased from 40% in 2012 to 86% in 2019.

“Last year there were 200,000 fewer retirees in absolute poverty than ten years ago and we plan to spend over £ 125 billion on retiree benefits in 2020/21.”

How much will the state pension increase by next April?

The decision to suspend the triple lockdown on state pensions this year has angered many seniors.

Some 93 percent of a This is Money reader survey wanted the government to keep its commitment and fund a larger increase.

The key figure for profit growth that would have driven the increase in state pensions from next April was 8.3 percent.

Older people on the full flat-rate state pension currently receive £ 179.60 per week or around £ 9,300 per year, so an 8.3% increase could have brought that amount to £ 194.51 and around 10 £ 100.

The old basic state pension, excluding the second state pension or SERPS that people have accumulated in addition, is £ 137.60, or around £ 7,200 per year. So that would have increased to £ 149.02, or around £ 7,700.

Instead, the increase from April next year will now be either 2.5% or the CPI inflation rate for September.

The CPI rate was 2 percent in July, but accelerated to 3.2 percent in August. Prices have been volatile of late due to supply difficulties and shortages following the pandemic and Brexit.

The crucial September CPI figure for the state pension is due to be announced on October 20, just ahead of the fall budget a week later.

If it went back to 3.2%, the flat-rate state pension would increase to £ 185.35 per week or £ 9,600 per year, and the base rate would rise to £ 142.00, or around £ 7,400.

Poverty among retirees: Age UK study shows progress has been reversed

Poverty among retirees: progress to reduce it is rapidly reversing, according to Age UK

Age UK says its retiree poverty report highlights importance of government commitment to triple lockdown,

He warns that if the value of the state pension erodes, it would increase the need for means-tested benefits and financial support such as Winter Fuel Payment.

And she calls on the government to set a clear reform agenda, in partnership with charities and other organizations, to end poverty later in life.

How is poverty measured?

Age UK offers the following explanation in its Make ends meet report issued today.

We believe that people live in poverty when their resources are insufficient to meet their basic needs and enable them to participate in society.

This can mean struggling to cover food and energy bills, watching every penny spent, worrying that nothing will be set aside for a sudden emergency such as a stove failure, or being unable to pay for transportation costs. to visit a friend or go to a social club.

Poverty and low income can be defined and measured in different ways, and people’s individual needs and circumstances vary.

The most commonly used definition is that a person in the UK lives in poverty if they live in a household with an income below 60% of the current median (or typical) household income, taking into account the number of people living in the household. .

Unless otherwise specified, we define poverty this way, and we use numbers calculated after people have paid their basic housing costs. These figures are taken from the DWP’s annual statistics on below-average household income.

Age UK says it wants financial disadvantages to be addressed with good social support, affordable essential goods and services, and access to information, advice and practical help to enable people to maximize their income.

He adds that it is much more difficult to manage on a modest income when people have additional costs due to a disability or care needs, and these are often overlooked in debates about poverty though. they are often a major factor behind the financial problems faced by some older people.

Caroline Abrahams, Director of Charity at Age UK, said: “I think many will be shocked at how many retired women are now living in poverty.

“It is also important to recognize how much greater the risk of poverty later in life is for black or Asian women, compared to their white peers.

“The fact that up to one in three lives below the poverty line demonstrates a level of structural inequality in our society, linked to race, which should be a wake-up call to national and local policymakers.”

She continues: “Stabilizing social assistance and increasing both the quantity and the quality of provision would make a big difference for many low-income people.

“They are unlikely to benefit from the Prime Minister’s proposed cap on catastrophic care costs due to the fact that they have little or no assets to protect.

“Our new analysis also shows how critical it is for the triple lock to be reactivated again in 2023.

“It might have been put on hold for a year, due to the distortions caused by the pandemic, but if we are to have any hope of reducing the level of pensioner poverty in our society, the triple lockdown must come back into effect. in 12 months. ‘

Anyone who is worried about their money or may be entitled to benefits can call the Age UK Advice line free of charge on 0800 169 65 65 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit ageuk.org.uk/money.

What does living in poverty mean for the elderly?

Age UK gave the following examples of calls to its helpline.

A man who was almost 90 years old and lived alone had a leaky roof that had recently soaked his staircase. He was receiving a pension credit and could not afford to have it repaired. Her family asked if there was any help available.

A relative contacted us regarding an 80 year old man who had electrical problems and could not afford the necessary new fuse box. The family were in daily contact, but it wasn’t until they visited him and found him in a cold, dark house that they realized the problem as he didn’t want to worry them.

Activists of the association also passed on the stories of older people about what it means to live on a low income.

Florence says: “I have worked my whole life starting with a Saturday job at the age of 12 and I am now 76 years old. Most of my adult life I have two or more jobs at the same time.

“I have to budget very carefully for each invoice… I don’t expect to be ‘rewarded’ for my work – it’s something we’ve always been high for, but I figured I would have enough money. to live, which the pension is certainly not.

“I saved my whole life thinking I would have enough money to support my much-needed retirement, but the savings were spent on post-retirement necessities and are long gone.”

Krishnasamy says: “I am 76 years old and I am disabled, my wife is 70 years old and also disabled. We have worked hard all our lives to have good last years but to no avail.

“I just got my new council tax claim, which has gone up, energy providers are just as bad, why does it have to increase, how are we supposed to respond to all these big, small increases by taking a meals a day plus dry bread plus maybe a cup of tea once a day.

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