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Poverty in later life

Independent Age has released a new report titled: Poverty in later life - How people in older age move in and out of poverty, and what should be done to reduce it

After historic falls in the 00s, poverty in later life is once again on the rise, at its highest rate since 2008 and steadily rising since 2012. This report summarises the results of commissioned research on income dynamics by City, University of London which analysed data from a survey that tracked the financial status of people at State Pension age and above across nearly a decade between 2010 and 2019. The report takes these findings and puts it in the wider context of poverty in later life. It ends with calls on decision makers to take specific and necessary action to combat poverty in later life.

This report is part of our wider work on poverty in later life. It also links to our Credit Where It’s Due campaign, highlighting the low-uptake of the vital benefit Pension Credit. You can find more information on our campaign here.

You can download the report below

IA Poverty in later life report Jan2022
Download PDF • 946KB

Key messages

•Poverty in later life is a growing problem in the UK.

•There are stark inequalities in later life that greatly increase the chances of

entering poverty past retirement age for some groups, including private and

social renters, black and Asian older people, and single women.

•Though older people’s income fluctuates less than in younger groups, there is

still movement in and out of poverty, with 40% of pensioners spending at least

one year in poverty in a nine-year period.

•Changes in social benefit income are the biggest single cause for older people

entering and exiting poverty.

•Tackling poverty in later life requires an ambitious strategy to tackle poverty

at all ages, while maximising the effectiveness of existing programmes.

Recommendation 1

The government must fulfil its commitment to restore the State Pension triple

lock from April 2023.

Recommendation 2

The DWP should conduct a wider review of the adequacy of the State Pension,

with the government setting out at what level it wants the State Pension to be

valued relative to average earnings.

Recommendation 3

The government should commit to protecting vital benefits for older people

that are currently under threat, including by reversing its proposal to scrap free

prescriptions for 60–65-year-olds.

Recommendation 4

The DWP must release a written action plan to increase the uptake of Pension

Credit. This action plan must include realistic measurable targets and scheduled

and continuous awareness-raising activity, as well as explore more fundamental

solutions such as a name change and full or partial auto-enrolment.

Recommendation 5

The government should pilot an auto-appointment system for the Pension

Wise service.

Recommendation 6

The government must keep its promise to introduce the Renters Reform Bill in

this parliament. This Bill must include commitments to scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’

evictions, and to introduce secure and standardised ‘lifelong deposits’, which can

be transferred from tenancy to tenancy without having to be repaid every time.

Recommendation 7

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should build

on the Renters Reform Bill by publishing a Green Paper on affordable, secure

tenancies. This should include consultation on the popular and effective

local rent controls in place in countries like Germany, and longer tenancy


Recommendation 8

The government should take up the recommendations made by the Good

Home Inquiry, set up by the Centre for Ageing Better and chaired by David Orr.20

This includes a new national strategy to improve England’s existing housing

stock led by a ministerial Good Home Champion, as well as a fully funded

Good Home Agency to facilitate home improvements for both homeowners

and landlords, and administer the Disabled Facilities Grant.

Recommendation 9

The role of an Older People’s Commissioner should be established in both

England and Scotland, with associated legal powers to hold the government

and other organisations to account.

Recommendation 10

The DWP should expedite its work on developing a new measure of poverty,

which was scheduled to be introduced in 2020. This work must build on

the developments made by the Social Metrics Commission and the Joseph

Rowntree Foundation, and must be accompanied by a firm commitment

and action from the government to tackle poverty at all life stages.

Recommendation 11

The DWP must develop a meaningful strategy to address poverty in the UK,

including those who experience poverty in later life.


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