Financial fears and access barriers prevent one-third of those over 60 from spending

A new report published by the leading think tank on demographic change, the International Longevity Centre (ILC), pinpoints an increasing economic trend among people aged 60 and over in the UK.

Confronted with a cost-of-living crisis and looming anxiety about paying for future care or health care, one in three people in this age group is reluctant to spend today. ILC calls for better access to financial advice and guidance to help people manage their money, as well as better accessibility to products, services, and high streets.

The Money well spent? report, based on a collaborative research project with Design Age Institute at the Royal College of Art finds that:

  • Almost three out of four people aged 60 and over (72%) feel they are not spending their time and money in the way they would like to
  • Financial concerns were the most significant barrier, both to spending on products and participating in social and leisure activities;
  • not having enough people to do things with was also an important barrier to participating in more social and leisure activities
  • Over half of those surveyed (52%) reported having difficulties getting to and around places due to inaccessible design, lack of transport and lack of facilities, and this increased to 63% for people aged 80 and over
  • Only half of those surveyed felt they shopped online as much as they would like to, in part because this lacks the human interaction element, but concerns about online scams and fraud were also important

The Money well spent? report identifies practical steps that the Government, financial services, regulators, businesses, town planners, and designers can take to support spending in later life, including:

  • Ensuring better access to financial guidance and advice, and ensuring there are the right financial products to support consumption in later life
  • Designing better last-mile travel and encouraging all towns and cities to join the UK’s Network of Age-friendly Communities
  • Recognising and rewarding accessible design, and making sure technology is used to enhance the shopping experience – both off and online.

Spending barriers

Dr Vivien Burrows, Senior Research Fellow at the ILC and report author commented: “Older consumers are an important part of our economy. By 2040, 63p in every pound in this country will be spent by someone aged 50 and over. But older consumers still often underspend, and the biggest reason is a concern about running out of money.”

“When we don’t know how long we are going to live for, whether we, or our loved ones, might need to pay for care, and how far our money will take us in the future, it’s unsurprising that a lot of us are underspending. Having the right financial products can play a part in helping us spend in the way we would like to, but it’s also important to ensure that everyone has access to affordable and accessible financial advice.”

“We also need to remove some of the practical barriers people face when they want to spend, like poor accessibility of our high streets and transport systems.”

Colum Lowe, Director of Design Age Institute, commented: “Design Age Institute strongly supports the importance of considered spending through the life course. By prioritising investments that enhance our quality of life, health, and wellbeing, we can amplify joy as we age.

“This research provides invaluable insights and recommendations that inspire us to invest in our own wellbeing, dedicating time, energy and resources to lead fulfilling and vibrant lives. However, collaboration between industry and government is crucial to provide the goods, services and facilities that empower us to remain independent, confident and capable consumers.”

You can find the full report here

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