Pensioners have never had it so good!

Campaigners call for an end to “Pensioners have never had it so good” claims

  • “Age Audit” shows hardships and difficulties faced by Britain’s pensioners
  • Call comes at the start of the annual NPC Pensioners’ Parliament 12-14 June 2018, Blackpool

Britain needs to have a more balanced view of what it is like to grow older and stop suggesting that “pensioners have never had it so good”, according to Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), ahead of its annual gathering in Blackpool.

The call coincides with the release of a new Age Audit, compiled by the NPC, which pulls together data from governmental and other recognised sources on the areas of income, health, diet, lifestyle, social exclusion and future generations.

Key data from the audit shows that:

  • The UK has the lowest state pension in terms of the amount of average earnings it replaces, of any developed country, ranking last out of 37 OECD countries.[i]
  • Around 1.9 million older people are living in poverty.[ii] Current poverty levels of those aged 75 and over are 18.5%, compared to 11% among the whole population and just over 10% for the age group 66-75.[iii]
  • Over the past seven years, the proportion of older people unable to afford a decent standard of living has increased from 23% to 32% – a reversal in a long-running trend of improved living standards for this age group.[iv]
  • An estimated 4 million older people in the UK (36% of people aged 65-74 and 47% of those aged 75+) have a limiting longstanding illness. This equates to 40% of all people aged 65 or over.[v]
  • There has been a cut of £6bn to adult social care budgets since 2011[vi] and now 1.2 million older people in England have care and support needs that the state does not meet.[vii]
  • Between 500,000 and 800,000 older people are subject to abuse and/or neglect in the UK each year.[viii]
  • Only about a third (36%) of people aged 50+ are confident that older people who receive care services, such as help with getting dressed or washing, either at home or in a care home, are treated with dignity and respect.[ix]
  • Nearly one in three of the oldest households in England (where the oldest person is aged 75+) live in housing which has failed the official decent homes standard[x] and around 4 million UK households are in fuel poverty, unable to afford to live in a warm, dry home.[xi]
  • People over 60 are more than twice as likely to be homeless now, than they were in 2009, with homelessness amongst the elderly surging by 100% in seven years.[xii]
  • 53% of adults agree that once you reach very old age, people tend to treat you as a child and 52% of older people agree that those who plan services do not pay enough attention to the needs of older people.[xiii]

Jan Shortt (double t), NPC general secretary said: “Over the last few years, pensioners have often been described in very negative ways or portrayed as the cause of society’s problems. Terms such as bed blocker are usually linked with older people to give the impression that the shortage of beds in the NHS is the fault of the individual, rather than the collapse of the social care system in the community. Equally, older people have been said to have escaped austerity and are the cause of all the problems faced by younger generations. Pensioners are invariably shown as gallivanting on SAGA cruises or jumping out of aeroplanes on their 90th birthday, but the reality is that 20% of older people live in poverty and at least 50% are living on an annual income of less than £11,500 a year.”

“We can only start to address the very serious issues facing older people when we accept a more balanced view of what life is like for millions of pensioners in 21st century Britain. With this understanding we can then start to design and map out the kind of services and welfare that is needed to look after and support people after a lifetime of work. At the moment, the UK is not the best place in which to grow older and that needs to change for both today’s pensioners and the pensioners of tomorrow.”


For more information contact Neil Duncan-Jordan on 07432-575251

Notes for Editors

[i] Pension Markets in Focus, OECD, 2017
[ii] Poverty in the UK: Statistics, House of Commons Library, April 2018
[iii] Pensions at a Glance 2017, OECD
[iv] A Minimum Income Standard, Trust for London and Loughborough University, March 2017
[v] General Lifestyle Survey 2011, Office for National Statistics, 2013
[vi] Budget Survey 2017, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, June 2017
[vii] The adult social care workforce in England, National Audit Office, February 2018
[viii] The need for a criminal offence of elder abuse, Action on Elder Abuse, 2016
[ix] TNS, Tracker Survey for Age UK., 2015
[x] English Housing Survey, Office for National Statistics, 2011
[xi] National Energy Action, 2018
[xii] The impact of homelessness on health, Local Government Association, 2017
[xiii] One Voice: Shaping our ageing society, Age Concern and Help the Aged, 2009