Half a century of progress in reducing levels of pensioner poverty is under significant threat of reversal, the Centre for Ageing Better’s State of Ageing report reveals today.
- More than one million pensioners have no savings.
- The highest number of older people in rented accommodation ever (almost 2 million aged 50 and older).
- This summer almost half of people aged 50-69 in serious financial difficulties ate less than they felt they should have because they didn’t have enough money for food.
- Poverty rates are even higher among some older people from ethnic minority backgrounds; more than one in three people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds aged 50 and over are living in relative poverty.
A new report from the Centre for Ageing Better reveals that half a century of progress in reducing pensioner poverty levels in the UK is under threat. The State of Ageing 2023 report contains concerning data showing current retirees and future generations struggling financially.
People aged 60-64 now have the highest relative poverty rate at 25%. The poorest 20% of retirees have annual incomes below the minimum needed to live on – just £41 per week for food. Overall, relative pensioner poverty has risen to nearly 18%, the highest this century.
The situation is worse for those below retirement age. People aged 60-64 have the highest poverty levels among all adults. Trends suggest millions will continue struggling when they do retire. Over 1 million pensioners have no savings, over 4.6 million people aged 50+ have mortgages, and nearly 2 million aged 50+ rent – with over a third of those in poverty.
During the summer, almost half of 50-69 year olds in financial difficulty ate less due to lack of money. Poverty rates are even higher among ethnic minorities. More than 40% of the poorest pensioners lack occupational or personal pensions.
Jabeer Butt,Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation, said:
“A rise in the number of older people should be a cause for celebration, but unfortunately The State of Ageing suggests too many of our older people are living in poverty and suffering from preventable ill-health. The detailed analysis shows that the burden of poverty and ill-health falls disproportionately on people of ethnic minority background, amongst others. Action should have been taken. Action must be taken now to tackle poverty and racial inequality, with improvement in wages and benefits as well as sustained investment in social housing, public transport and provision of health and care, combined with leadership on tackling the scourge of racism. Older people from all communities deserve better.”
While pensioner poverty levels have fallen since the 1960s, the report warns this progress could reverse. The pandemic and cost-of-living crisis are exacerbating inequality and disproportionately affecting the poorest. Steps urged include appointing a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing to ensure policymakers consider the needs of disadvantaged older people now and in future.
Read the summary report here.