Fact sheet: Pensioners


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Pensioners fact sheet



This facts sheet was first circulated in 2009 at the performance of the play ‘A Century of Pensioners’ Struggle’ by Prisca Allen at the Crossroads Women's Centre, with members of the Greater London Pensioners' Association (GLPA), to celebrate the centenary of the state pension.


There are 11.7 million pensioners in the UK

of whom the majority are women.

Poverty is increasing

· In 2007/08 two and a half million pensioners, one in four of pensioners, live below the official poverty line. Means-tested benefits fail to reach 1.8m pensioners who are eligible.
· Two thirds of pensioners in poverty are women. Up to five million women pensioners failed to get a full state pension because they spent years raising children, caring for relatives or working part-time, or counted on their husbands’. 30% of women compared to 85% of men collect a full pension.
· The full state pension is £95.25 a week, around £50 a week below the official poverty level of £151. The reduced rate pension, mainly received by women, is £57.05.
· The government acknowledged: “People from ethnic minorities are at higher risk of pensioner poverty” and “are over-represented amongst those collecting the poorest pensions in Britain.” (former Pensions Minister, Ian McCartney.)
· The number of pensioners in prison increased by over a third between 2004 and 2008: 34% more men and 40% more women.
· Paying a basic state pension to all over State Pension age regardless of their contribution record would cost £4.2 billion. This is the amount the UK spends on the war in Afghanistan each year.

Paying the price of care or no care.

· Over the past eleven years 702,000 older people have had to sell their homes or cut into their hard earned life savings to pay for the cost of their care.
· In 2006, people over 65 contributed £380m to the support they receive to stay in their own homes. 75,000 pensioners are paying for nursing care which could and should be provided free under the NHS.
· Women pensioners are the majority of people depending on homecare. “Thousands go without food and heating to pay the soaring costs of homecare services . . .” and thousands give up care they need.

Eating or Heating

· During the winter of 2006/2007 winter, 23,900 pensioners died from cold related illnesses in England and Wales alone.
· One in three pensioner households spend more than 10% of their income on fuel bills. High bills (now £924 on average compared to £572 in 2003), pushed a further 750,000 pensioners into ‘fuel poverty’, i.e. unable to heat their homes.

Sources: Greater London Pensioners Association newsletter, February 2009; National Pensioners Convention website, April 2009; Department of Work and Pensions; "Charging Into Poverty" , Coalition on Charging report 2008; BBC on line Thursday, 30 January, 2003; The Runnymede’s Response to Security in Retirement, 2006; The Daily Telegraph, 13 August 2008, quoting report by Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Facts compiled by Women in Dialogue, Crossroads Women’s Centre.
30 May 2009


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