OF PENSIONER POVERTY REVEALED
A national survey, published this week, reveals the true extent of
financial hardship faced by pensioners and the lack of financial
support older people receive. The survey, of 637 people,
carried out by national charity IndependentAge in conjunction with
leading consumer magazine Yours, reveals that 66% respondents aged
65 and over live on less than £150 per week, with 11% living on less
than £100 per week. Shockingly, some respondents said they spent as
little as £1 per day on food.
Despite coping with such financial adversity, the survey reveals
that a staggering 55% of respondents are not in receipt of benefits.
The reasons for this are threefold, with 21% who were unaware that they may
well be entitled to them; 13% were hampered by the confusing system;
and 21% did not want to go through the means testing process.
Jonathan Powell, Chief Executive of IndependentAge said:- "The
results of this survey prove that the current benefits system is
failing the people who need it most, as does the £2.9billion in
potential benefits that went unclaimed in the 2003/2004 financial
year. The system is inaccessible and confusing while older people
see it as intrusive and demeaning. An immediate increase in the
basic state pension to a level that simply meets people's basic
needs, a measure supported by 87% of respondents, would remove the
stigma of additional means tested benefits. IndependentAge believes
that all older people should have an adequate income to cover
essential items and which, in turn, enables them to retain their
independence and remain connected with their communities."
Whilst running into debt was not such a concern for respondents who
have lived through post war rationing, the fear that their financial
independence may be under threat due to rising bills was acute. 76%
of respondents aged 70 plus worry about escalating bills such as
council tax and heating compared to only 45% who express fear about
running into debt. And the worry and financial burdens do not
stop there. Coping with one off costly expenses were also revealed
to put an added pressure on respondents, 72% of whom said that
financial security was of utmost importance in maintaining their
independence as they get older. 71% of respondents aged 65 plus
cannot afford to put money aside for "the unexpected" and yet 69% of
these people had to cope with the cost of an unexpected large
payment in the last 12 months.
Jonathan Powell, Chief Executive of IndependentAge said:- "As
a charity that provides financial assistance to older people in
need, we are only too aware of the huge stress caused when older
people are confronted with an unexpected bill or an unavoidable
emergency repair. They are often not in a position to put aside
contingency money and any capital is usually tied up in their
Valery McConnell, Editor, Yours said:- "While for many there
has never been a better time to be retired, this survey shows that
many older people are denying themselves basic necessities such as
food, because of their fear of mounting household bills. For
whatever reason, help is not reaching many of those on low fixed
incomes and redressing this should be a priority."
RESEARCH IDENTIFIES 280,000 MASS AFFLUENT PENSIONERS
ANALYSIS of industry data by Brewin Dolphin Wealth Management (BDWM)
reveals that there are some 280,000 ‘SPEARS’ – Senior People
Enjoying Affluent Retirements. BDWM, a division of Brewin Dolphin
Securities, defines these people as 65 and over and with net wealth
of £500,000 or more. Collectively, they are worth around £239.7
billion or £854,137 each and they own around 9.34% of the UK’s
personal net wealth.
In terms of how their wealth breaks down, the largest holding –
nearly 30% - is in securities such as shares and corporate bonds.
Some 23% is in cash and just under 27% in UK property.
WEALTH BREAKDOWN OF SPEARS
wealth invested in this asset
wealth tied-up in this asset
Total net capital value
Martin Smith, Chief Executive of BDWM said:- “There are a
large number of mass affluent retired people in the UK. Indeed, we
estimate that they account for around 34% of the total number of
people with net wealth of £500,000 or more. Many of them are also
very active with their investments with around £126.28 billion or
£449,981 each in liquid assets. This is more than half their wealth.
Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation earlier this year found
that older people are not being excessively frugal in order to leave
everything to their children and neither are they being reckless in
terms spending their family assets on luxuries. Instead, it
suggested that they manage their assets in a balanced way.”
Cancel Christmas? No
THIS year more employers than ever are planning to cancel Christmas.
According to a survey of 3,500 employers by law firm Peninsula the
boozy office Christmas party is becoming outlawed by bosses tired of
lewd behaviour, arguments and compensation claims from staff. The
survey found that up to 80% of employers
will not be organising a Christmas party this year.
Sue Green, from North West-based charity Real Christmas, thinks this
is very sad news. Sue said:- "By banning Christmas we are
selling people short of a
wonderful opportunity to connect once again with a message of real
hope that will remain with us once the effects of the Christmas
party hang-over has worn off. So many people are missing out on the
deeper, more meaningful side of Christmas. That's why I really want
to encourage people to explore this 'something more' for themselves,
by attending a local carol service."
In order to help people to find out about more about carol services
in their area the charity is launching a new website on 1 December.
It can be found at
Just put in your postcode and it will tell you about a range of
carol services in your area. At any of these events you can find a
guaranteed welcome, traditional carols and a re-telling of the
Sue Green added:- "Call off the turkey, turn down Slade and
call off the office party if you must, but cancel Christmas? No