Any idea that ‘pensioner poverty has been solved’ is challenged by figures in the 2015 edition of “Households Below Average Income” (HBAI) published recently by the DWP and covering up to 2013-14.
Across the UK, 1.6 million pensioners (14%) were considered to be in ‘relative low income’ and 1.9 million (16%) in ‘absolute low income’ after housing costs. The national percentages in each case rose by 1% fron 2013 to 2014. Relative low income is defined in this study as household income below 60% of national median income. Absolute low income is defined as below 60% of national median income in a previous reference year, plus inflation – this measures low incomes not keeping up with inflation.
Hardly a sign that pensioner poverty has been solved or even that ‘older people are well off’ as we sometimes hear. Inequality flourishes among older people as it does among the population as a whole.
However, in London and particularly in Inner London the picture is worse: “Pensioners in Inner London had the highest rates of relative low income AHC [after housing costs], at 23 per cent, considerably higher than that of the whole pensioner population at 14 per cent. This reflects the higher housing costs in the area.”
For the same reason: “Pensioners in Inner London were nearly three times as likely to be in material deprivation compared to the whole pensioner population, 26 per cent compared to 9 per cent.” Outer London’s rates of low income for pensioners (both before and after housing costs) were slightly higher than the national average. In HBAI, regional figures for pensioner poverty are given as three-year averages.
Clearly then, pensioner poverty in London is a very live issue and deserves attention from Government, funders, borough Councils and candidates in next year’s London Mayoral and Assembly elections. Age UK London is planning some research into the situation of older people in private rented housing in London and these figures seem to confirm that this research is needed.