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The scandal of pensioner poverty

A significant achievement of the last Labour government was a reduction in pensioner poverty.

In 1996/97, 42% of single female pensioners were in poverty while the high point for single male pensioner poverty was 34% in 1997/98.  By 2009 these had fallen to 18% and 14% respectively.

Since 2010, single pensioner poverty has seen once again a systematic rise to 24% for females and 20% for males, and the rise looks set to continue.

Along with rising child poverty, it is a scandal of a decade of austerity.




According to analysis by the Rowntree Trust, a significant cause of rising pensioner poverty is housing costs.  For those in social housing, the poverty rate peaked at 54% in 1996/97, fell to 20% in 2012/13, and has risen back to 31% in 2016/17. For those renting from private landlords, the peak was 46% in 1997/98, and the low point was 27% in 2007/08, before rising back up to 36% in 2016/17.

With so many people set to retire with inadequate pensions, we are likely to see a continuing rise in pensioner poverty.   So many are now having to continue to work beyond retirement age.

ONS data shows that the number of people aged over 70 who are still working has more than doubled in the last decade to nearly half a million.  

Catherine Seymour, head of policy at Independent Age, has pointed out that the rise in people working beyond 65 coincides with increases in pensioner poverty.

 “One in every six people – nearly two million – of pension age are now living in poverty and every day, another 226 people join that number."
The government often boasts of the record numbers now in work.  The reality behind their pride in that figure is pensioner poverty.

Pensioner poverty is a scandal.  

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