Campaigners call for a more balanced view of growing older in Britain
- Age Audit shows hardships and difficulties faced by Britain’s pensioners
- Call comes at the start of the annual NPC Pensioners’ Parliament 16-18 June 2015, Blackpool
- Guest speakers include Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, Dave Ward CWU General Secretary and Professor Christina Beatty (Author of Hitting the Poorest Hardest)
Britain needs to have a more balanced view of what it is like to grow older, according to Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), ahead of their annual gathering in Blackpool.
The call follows the release of a new Age Audit, compiled by the NPC, which pulls together data from governmental and other recognised sources on the areas of income, health, diet, lifestyle, social exclusion and future generations.
Key data from the audit shows that:
- Almost 40% of those aged 65 and over in the UK experienced poverty at least once between 2010 and 2013, compared with around 30% of those under 65
- 42% of older people (5.8m) in the UK said they have struggled to afford essential items eg. food, gas, electricity
- 1.5m older people in England have care and support needs that the state does not meet
- Over 500,000 people aged 65 and over are victims of elder abuse
- 7% of over 65s in the UK (700,000) said they went without food or other essential items in winter because of worries about the cost of heating their home and 77% of pensioners under-heat their homes, eg. only heat one room as a way of reducing their energy bills
- Latest estimates suggest 1.3m people over 65 suffer from malnutrition, and the vast majority (93%) live in the community
- 60% of older people in the UK agree that age discrimination exists in the daily lives of older people
- A high proportion of people are failing to save enough for their retirement; 42% of adults have no pension provision apart from that provided by the state (40). The majority that do, have a pension pot of around £47,000 – nowhere near enough to give a decent income in retirement.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “Over the last few years, pensioners have often been described in very negative ways or portrayed as the cause of society’s problems. Terms such as bed blocker are usually linked with older people to give the impression that the shortage of beds in the NHS is the fault of the individual, rather than the collapse of the social care system in the community. Equally, older people have been said to have escaped austerity and are the cause of all the problems faced by younger generations. Pensioners are invariably shown as gallivanting on SAGA cruises or jumping out of aeroplanes on their 90th birthday, but the reality is that 20% of older people live in poverty and 60% are living on an annual income of less than £10,500 a year.”
“We can only start to address the very serious issues facing older people when we accept a more balanced view of what life is like for millions of pensioners in 21st century Britain. With this understanding we can then start to design and map out the kind of services and welfare that is needed to look after and support people after a lifetime of work. At the moment, the UK is not the best place in which to grow older and that needs to change.”
Highlights of the Parliament will include:
- On 16 June: a two hour rally featuring Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader), Paul Nowak (TUC Assistant General Secretary) and Dot Gibson (NPC general secretary).
- 17 June: Debates on changes to pensions, the challenge of dementia and social care, privatisation of the NHS and how to make public transport more accessible.
- 18 June: Panel discussion featuring Professor Christina Beatty (Sheffield Hallam University) talking about the Austerity Audit she and colleagues have carried out looking at the impact of cuts over the last five years and newly elected CWU general secretary, Dave Ward considering what the next five years hold for campaigners.