Report : 50,000 Welsh pensioners living in severe poverty

A 91-year-old woman was drying toilet paper on the radiator and eating just two boiled potatoes a day because she was so desperately short of money.

That’s one of the shocking examples highlighted by a new report from Age Cymru about pensioner poverty in Wales.

The ‘Life on a low income’ report finds:

• 84,000 older people in Wales live in poverty;
• Just under 50,000 older people in Wales live in severe poverty on £183.50 per week or less;
• 200,000 older people report cutting back on food, heating, and social activities for financial reasons;
• 42,000 of older people report getting into debt in recent years;

Report author Graeme Francis of Age Cymru says: “All older people should have an adequate standard of living.

“No-one should be faced with a calamitous reduction in their standard of living when they retire or be resigned to a life where they are forced to choose between basic essentials in order to make ends meet.

“Yet unfortunately, many older people in Wales have to make these stark compromises and tough choices every day.

“This situation is preventable. In 2011/2012, Age Cymru and its network of local partners helped older people across Wales to claim £13 million in extra benefits.

“We did this through our income maximisation and information & advice services, but unfortunately as much as £168 million is estimated to be going unclaimed by older people entitled to Pension Credit alone.

“This is money which could make a significant difference to many older people and also to the Welsh economy.

“Age Cymru is calling for the Welsh Government and local authorities to use the Tackling Poverty Action Plan to strengthen support for these services to make sure that vital help is available to all older people across Wales.”

Jeff Cuthbert AM, the Welsh Government Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, said: “Tackling poverty remains a key priority for the Welsh Government and I am committed to taking forward a number of programmes that lift people out of poverty or stop the risk of them falling into it.

“Examples of our work include appointing an Older People’s Commissioner to champion older people’s rights, announcing further grant funding of £1million for front-line advice services and fully-funding our free local bus travel service for older or disabled people.

“There are 725,000 bus passes in circulation, demonstrating the success and popularity of the scheme.

“However, we recognise that it is important to identify new opportunities to reduce poverty and improve the lives of those living in the poorest parts of Wales.”

To download the full report, click here.