A new report from Age UK has reignited the debate about how easy life is for pensioners. With today’s meagre state pensions, high inflation and rubbish savings interest rates, are pensioners that well off?
The Age UK research, which is part of a campaign to help people access the £5.4 billion in unclaimed pensioner benefits each year, paints a grim picture.
Nearly half of pensioners say they are just ‘getting by’, with one in ten claiming that they’re really struggling.
The majority of pensioners live on low-to-middle incomes and are being squeezed by rising food and energy costs. So if you’re a pensioner, it’s likely that you’re cutting back on your heating, going out less and buying cheaper food.
Easy? You’re having a laugh
Previously we put forward the idea that perhaps ‘pensioners have got it easy’, following the publication of a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The report, ‘Sharing the burden – How the older generation should suffer for its share of the cuts’, suggested that older people enjoy a privileged position and shouldn’t be exempt from cuts.
This provoked a strong response from most of you. Many were keen to point out that the current state pension is inadequate, and that you’d already paid your dues over the years, making any free benefits (bus passes or TV licenses) well and truly earned.
Age UK’s findings seem to support this and dispels the notion that today’s retired are some sort of ‘golden generation’. The idea was that people who retired 10 or more years ago were beneficiaries of generous final salary pensions, high annuity rates and buoyant investments.
But although it’s fair to say that many pensioners do have enough money to survive and can even help out their children and grandchildren, most aren’t in such a privileged position.
The moral dilemma
Is there also a moral question here? Many older people will have worked all their lives, paying tax and National Insurance. Yet, in return, they’re receiving one of the lowest state pensions in Europe.
Other European countries have a culture where they cherish and look after their elderly citizens, making them the priority, rather than creating a situation where they are financially excluded and isolated within society.
So, without making generalisations, are pensioners fair game to absorb the many cuts being implemented by the government? Or are they struggling enough already and even require more help from those currently in work?
This latest report would seem to suggest that if you’re a pensioner, you’re probably living on the breadline. So, in my view, we should be doing more to make your later years as comfortable as possible.