Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Poverty Culls Elderly Whites

Two million pensioners are living in poverty - with half unable to afford heating

By Carol Driver
Last updated at 11:51 AM on 27th January 2010

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Elderly lady

Poverty: Some one million pensioners are unable to afford to heat their homes (Posed by model)

Two million pensioners are living in poverty, according to figures released today.

Half of these are living alone and unable to afford fuel – meaning they have to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on heating.

The findings, published by the Office of National Statistics, also show fewer over 60s are relying on the state pension – with more receiving company benefits.

However, according to the figures, the number of pensioners living in poverty has fallen by nearly a third from 2.9million in 1998/99 to two million in 2007/08 – the most recent statistics available.

Poverty is officially defined as living on 60% of the average income, once housing costs have been paid.

The ONS analysis also found that the difference in income for the richest and poorest households was lower for pensioners than for those still working.

But it added that income inequality increased during the past three decades, particularly during the period between 1977 and 1990.

There has also been a pronounced shift in the source of pensioners' income, according to the ONS.

In 1997, the state pension accounted for 53 per cent of a retired person’s income – falling to 37 per cent in 2007/08.


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While money from occupational pensions and annuities accounted for an average of just 18 per cent, rising to 36 per cent over the same period.

Around 11 per cent of pensioners' income came from investments in 2007/08, while 13 per cent came from benefits.

Figures also show the liabilities faced by unfunded public sector pension schemes fell to £770billion in March 2008, down from £810billion 12 months earlier - although it said much of the improvement was due to changes in accounting assumptions.

The ONS said that income from a company or private pension scheme was a crucial factor in determining whether someone would be well off in retirement or not.

'In 2007-08, pensioners with private pensions were more likely to be in the higher income quintile groups [the top 20%] for the whole population, while those without private pensions were more likely to be in the bottom income quintile groups,' the ONS said.

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