‘WWII generation suffers in silence’: 20% of Britain’s over 75s are living in poverty

© Stefan Wermuth
A fifth of pensioners over the age of 75 are living below the poverty line, according to a scathing new report published by Independent Age, a charity group for the elderly.

The ‘silent generation’ of older pensioners who lived through the Second World War are much more likely to live in persistent poverty than younger ‘baby boomer’ pensioners, the research found. 

The report revealed some 950,000 older pensioners are living in poverty. On average, the weekly income of over-75s is £59 less than that of younger pensioners, and £112 less than working age adults.

“These findings show how misleading it is to treat all 11.8 million pensioners in this country as one group. It would be foolish to assume that inequality simply ceases to exist at retirement age, but that is exactly what some of the recent rhetoric around 'intergenerational unfairness' does,” said Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age chief.

The report also found that elderly women are at a greater risk of falling into poverty across both older and younger pensioner groups.

“The silent generation of older pensioners, renters and single women have missed out on many of the gains of recent years.”

Older pensioners are less likely to claim pension credit when eligible for it. An estimated 750,000 older pensioners who qualify for the credit fail to claim it.

“This is the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ generation that lived through the Second World War. The older people we spoke to as part of this research talked about ‘keeping a brave face,’ ‘cutting their cloth’ and not wanting to ask for help. There is a real risk that this generation will be forgotten and left to suffer in silence,” Morrison said.

The group called on the government to “reenergize their efforts” to promote the take-up of Pension Credits among those most at risk of falling into poverty.

Independent Age’s research comes as separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics, revealed that almost a third of all Britons had experienced poverty at least once between 2011 and 2014.

The ONS warned on Monday that the UK had the 12th highest overall poverty rate in the EU, despite being the bloc’s second richest country.