1.8 Million Pensioners Still Living in Poverty

The latest information on Pension Trends shows that in 2008/09, there were still an estimated 1.8 million pensioners living in poverty in the UK, even though the number has dropped by one million over the past decade.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2008/09:

  • Average weekly incomes for pensioner couples were £564 a week, compared with £304 for single male and £264 a week for single female pensioners. 
  • The largest source of income for pensioners is ‘state benefit income’ which includes state pension income and benefits.  Occupational pensions are also a significant source of income for many pensioners, particularly for couples.
  • The average weekly income of couples in the ‘under 75’ category was 28 per cent higher than that of couples in the ‘75 or over’ category. A key reason for this is that younger pensioner couples are more likely to have some income from employment than older pensioner couples.
  • Average gross pensioner incomes increased by 44 per cent in real terms between 1994/95 and 2008/09, which was ahead of the growth in average earnings. However, average incomes conceal considerable variations between poorer and richer pensioners. In 2008/09, pensioner couples in the highest income quintile1 received median net income of £755 per week, compared with £197 per week for those in the lowest income quintile.

(The most commonly used official measure of living in poverty is 60 per cent of equivalised contemporary median income after housing costs.)

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