24% of London over-50s living in poverty

An Age UK report says older people’s poverty in the capital is higher than the national average reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A metal coaster with loose change including pound coins and twenty and fifty pence pieces
Photo by Sarah Agnew on Unsplash

Almost a quarter of over-50s in London are living in poverty, a new report has found.

The latest research from Age UK London shows that while 19 per cent of older people across the country are in poverty, the figure in the capital rises to 24 per cent.

The report says that if poverty rates for over-50s in London were at the same rate as the rest of England, about 125,000 fewer older people in the capital would be in poverty.

Abi Wood, Age UK London’s CEO, said the report “underscores the pressing need for affordable and accessible housing options, as well as comprehensive measures to alleviate poverty among this vulnerable demographic”.

The charity said it is concerned with the figures relating to older private renters, with poverty rates at 28 per cent.

Despite this being a drop from a pre-pandemic peak of 34 per cent, the number of older renters in poverty remains nearly two times the rate of their home-owning peers at 16 per cent.

One older person says in the report: “I’m very scared of how I will get through the winter and keep warm. I fear losing my [privately rented] home because I cannot cope with the rising cost of living.”

In a call for improvements from policymakers, Ms Wood said: “There is still a long way to go to tackle poverty amongst older Londoners – the capital, one of the richest cities in the world, continues to have the highest poverty rates of any region of the UK and it has increased instead of fallen over the past decade.”

The issue was raised at a Mayor’s Question Time session on Thursday by Joanne McCartney, Enfield and Haringey’s Labour member of the London Assembly. She asked mayor Sadiq Khan what support he is putting in place for older Londoners.

The mayor said he was “very concerned” by rising poverty among older people, which he said had been driven by austerity over the last 13 years. He pointed to his campaign to boost the uptake of pension credit across the capital, his attempts to boost affordable homes, and the funding he has given to face-to-face advice services in the capital.

McCartney asked how he will help those without internet access find out about his energy advice and warmer homes advice services – a problem mentioned in Age UK London’s report.

The mayor said it was “spot on” to look at digital inclusion, which he said became a particularly clear issue during the pandemic. He added that City Hall is aware of the need to provide information in paper format for those who are offline.

A Government spokesperson said: “There are 200,000 fewer pensioners in absolute poverty than in 2009/10 and the government remains committed to protecting pensioners.

“That is why we made the biggest State Pension increase in history this year as well as boosting Pension Credit – worth around £3,500 a year for those on the lowest incomes.

“On top of this, pensioners most in need will receive up to £600 this winter to help with essential costs and we are bearing down on inflation to make everyone’s money go further.”

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