Age Scotland: 11% of pensioners in ‘persistent poverty’ after housing costs
Age Scotland has highlighted the urgent need for action to tackle pensioner poverty as statistics from the Scottish Government revealed today that 11% of pensioners were in persistent poverty after housing costs between 2016 and 2020.
The figure is unchanged from the previous period.
Figures also estimate that 19% of those aged 55-64 are also in poverty, raising concerns over the increasingly difficult position facing older people of working age and what the future looks like for them.
Last year, Age Scotland’s helpline advisors uncovered more than £560,000 in unclaimed support for callers. But the charity believes this is just the tip of the iceberg, with at least £400 million in Pension Credit and other benefits like Council Tax Reduction going unclaimed by older people in Scotland each year.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Year on year, we’re dealing with the same sad story of stubbornly high levels of pensioner poverty in Scotland and it’s clear there is still nowhere near enough focus on the devastating impact it has.
“There are far too many pensioners affected by poverty and it is difficult to point to any discernible actions taking place in Scotland to drive it down.
“There is a deafening silence at Holyrood about this issue and a distinct lack of ideas about how to tackle it. There is barely a mention of pensioners and older people in the Scottish Government’s own benefit uptake strategy. If it is a case of relying solely on the UK Government to improve things, then it’s clear we are likely to be waiting a very long time indeed.”
He continued: “Looking at the huge number of working age older people also living in poverty paints a grim image of the future, so it’s vital to ensure we have a labour market that is prepared for and able to properly support older people to work for as long as they want and need to.
“If older people claimed all of the social security support they are entitled to, it stands to reason that huge numbers could be lifted out of poverty.
“Unfortunately, we know this just isn’t happening and hundreds of millions of pounds still go unclaimed every year. We must ensure older people are not facing barriers to claiming support and are able to boost their income where possible.”
Mr Sloan concluded: “That’s why we’re continuing to encourage people to check in with Age Scotland’s 0800 12 44 222 helpline to see if they or older family members are entitled to social security support.
“Ending pensioner poverty will not happen overnight and requires action on all fronts but, especially given the strain facing older households due to the rapidly rising cost of living, if there was ever a time for big ideas and action from the Scottish Government about how we can lift more pensioners out of poverty - it is now.”