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'This is a scandal': Four million pensioners set for poverty by 2040

'This is a scandal': Four million pensioners set for poverty by 2040
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

The number of pensioners in poverty could increase to 3.9 million by 2040, a report finds.

If the current trends of financial hardships increase, poverty is set to increase from 17% to 23% for those aged 65 years old, particularly prevalent in older women.

There will be 26% of women at that age or over in poverty, compared to 20% of men at the same age, according to the Keys to the Future report by Independent Age.

This is due to ongoing issues such as the gender pay gap and a lack of opportunities to add to their savings pots due to caring responsibilities or maternity leave.

For women with disabilities, there is set to be a striking rise, with 29% of that demographic in poverty – a rise from 18%.

Older renters hit the hardest

The highest growing section of retirees who experience poverty are renters and the number of older people in rented accommodation is set to surge to almost a quarter.

This could lead to 61% of older renters in poverty, with many unable to even afford the rising costs of renting, which has shot up by almost 10% in the last year.

In the UK, there are around two million pensioners considered to be in relative poverty, while a third are in “very deep financial hardship”, leading to many resorting to extreme measures.

To battle the cost-of-living crisis, a third are eating less than they should and three in five are showering or taking a bath less, a separate study from the Centre of Ageing Better found.

‘Report paints a dreadful picture’

Following the concerning situation among pensioners, Joanna Elson, chief executive of Independent Age, described the “rocketing level” of pensioner poverty as “bleak”.

“It must be a wake-up call for decision-makers across the UK”, Elson said.

She added: “Every day, we speak to some of the almost two million older people already in financial hardship who are skipping meals, washing in cold water or not using the lights in the evening, all to save money. It’s a horrible situation, but it’s the reality for one in six older people.

“This is a scandal, and this new research shows it could get even worse, rising to affect almost one in four.”

Elson called on whichever party wins the general election to help those on low income so buying or renting a house is affordable later in life.

She said: “This report paints a dreadful picture of what could happen if no action is taken. Is this really what we want our future to look like?

“With collective action from politicians, businesses, regulators, housing providers, charities and others, we can ensure the voices of current and future generations of older people are heard, that they live in safe, affordable and secure homes and have the income they need to live a dignified and fulfilling life.”

If you are a retiree and struggling to afford bills, there are support options you can apply for.

How to claim for housing benefit

You can apply for housing benefits as part of your Pension Credit application.

Pension Service phone numbers:

  • Telephone: 0800 99 123
  • Textphone: 0800 169 0133
  • Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 99 1234
  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

How to claim for council tax reduction

To see if you are eligible, you can use the online checker tool on the Government website. Alternatively, you can call your local council to discuss whether you are eligible.