ALMOST a quarter of over-65s are suffering money problems as “pensioner poverty” continues to spread, a charity revealed yesterday.
A report from Age UK warned that nearly three million of Britain’s pensioners are struggling to manage, leading Labour to charge that living in poverty is now an everyday reality for older people.
The charity said that older people were failing to claim around £3.5 billion in benefits, including council tax support, each year. It surveyed 1,300 people over 65 and found that one in four were struggling with financial difficulties.
Age UK director Caroline Abrahams 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.”
Shadow employment minister Margaret Greenwood said: “This report highlights the destructive consequences of the Conservatives’ brutal and unnecessary austerity programme.”
She condemned the Tories’ plans to scrap the so-called triple lock on the value of the state pension and pledged that Labour would retain it as well as maintaining the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes to help tackle pensioner poverty.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said it had reduced pensioner poverty to almost historically low levels by introducing the triple lock and protecting the poorest through pension credit.
“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,” he said.