“Listen to older voices” – poverty in later life is underestimated by the public

Almost half (49%) of the general public underestimate the scale of poverty in later life, according to new polling from financial hardship charity Independent Age.

One in six older people currently live in poverty (around 2 million), yet when asked what proportion of people 65 and over are currently living in poverty in the UK, 8% thought it was 1 in 50, 20% said 1 in 20 and 21% said 1 in 12. A further 21% answered ‘don’t know’.

In response the charity has launched its Statement of Intent, calling on people of all ages to work together to tackle pensioner poverty. The statement has the backing of more than 70 organisations already, including the Trussell Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Citizen’s Advice.

The statement has also been voiced in a new video from TV chef Rustie Lee, who appears alongside charity spokespeople and older people who have benefitted from the charity’s information and advice services. 

On her support for the statement, Rustie Lee said: “No one dreams of a later life where having a hot meal is an unaffordable luxury, yet this has become the reality for millions of older people who are living in poverty.

“It’s never been more important for the voices of older people on a low income to be heard. That’s why I’m proud to support Independent Age’s Statement of Intent. Together, we can push for the change that means we can all look forward to a financially secure later life.”

Independent Age says that too often, the voices of older people on a low income aren’t heard or acted on by the people who have the power to make change. Ahead of the UK General Election and beyond, the charity is asking organisations and individuals to sign the Statement and commit to:

  • Listen to the voices of older people in financial insecurity 
  • Share stories of pensioners living in poverty
  • Support changes to reduce poverty in older age, ensuring a financially secure future for everyone

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive at Independent Age, said: “There is a dangerous and misleading stereotype that all older people are enjoying a lavish retirement, but in reality, millions are facing tough choices every day.

“The older people we speak to tell us harrowing stories of sitting in the dark, washing less and cutting back drastically on the amount of food they buy. This is no way to live, and importantly, it can be addressed. 

“By uniting, sharing stories and supporting changes that older people on a low income need to see, we can all play our part in improving the lives of people in later life already facing financial hardship, and ensure that all of us can look forward to a later life filled with dignity, choice and purpose.”

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