UK elderly struggle as severe poverty rates rise

A new report has revealed a worrying rise in the number of elderly people living in 'severe poverty'.

The proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK has gone from one of the lowest in western Europe to one of the highest in the last 30 years, according to a new report.

The Pension Reforms and Old Age Inequalities in Europe study found that, in 2015/16, one in 20 (5%) elderly Brits were forced to live on an income that was less than 40% of the UK median average income. 

This compared to just one in 100 back in 1984/85.

The biggest cause for the declining standard of living was the State Pension system, low basic payments and means-tested supplements, explained Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus, author of the report.

Read: everything you need to know about pensions

Elderly woman looking at change. (Image: Shutterstock)

‘Basic security and meagre pensions’

The data revealed that, in the mid-1980s, the UK had one of the lowest rates of elderly poverty rates out of 16 western European countries analysed.

This proportion jumped to around 6% by 2007/2008, with poverty rates for the over 65s among the highest in western Europe.

While this dipped to just under 5% over the following eight years, it remains among the worst performers.

“The lowest poverty rates are found in the relatively generous Dutch and Danish basic pensions,” Ebbinghaus said in the report.

“In contrast, Ireland, the UK and Switzerland, with basic security and Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain, as well as Slovenia, with meagre pensions, have the highest poverty rates, coming close to US levels."

How to boost your income in retirement

If you are struggling to make ends meet in retirement, the first thing to do is make sure you're claiming all help and benefits that you qualify for

If this still doesn't bridge the gap, you need to look at what steps you can take to boost your income.

From downsizing to going back to work, we've put together a list of your options in this guide.

State Pension: 5 mistakes that impact how much you get paid

Do you think today's elderly are worse off than previous generations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



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