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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 00:12 GMT
Pensioner poverty 'getting worse'
Pensioners need more help to get the benefits they need
Pensioners have been failed by the government because millions continue to live in poverty, a charity has said.

Help the Aged claims not enough has been done to help two million pensioners living below the official poverty line, and warned the crisis was set to get worse.

It is now calling on the government to do more to tackle pensioner poverty in a new campaign launched on Sunday.

It wants targets set to ensure pensioners claim their benefits as part of the Stop Pensioner Poverty Now campaign.

And it is calling for the age related addition for those aged over 80 to rise from 25p to 5 a week.

Daily struggle

One in three pensioners are failing to claim income support.

Help the Aged's director of policy, Paul Cann, said: "The UK is the fourth richest country in the world yet the majority of pensioners are struggling to get by."

The government must face up to the collapse of confidence in the current and future pensions system, he said.

The group also wants the government to take action to prevent the estimated 20,000 avoidable deaths of pensioners each winter, by installing insulation and central heating in the homes of elderly people who do not have it.

'Woeful take-up'

Shadow work and pensions secretary David Willetts welcomed the campaign, saying there was a "woefully low take-up of benefits" such as attendance allowance by pensioners.

He said older pensioners should be paid more because they tend to be the poorest out of retired people.

"This new report is more evidence that the government's policies just aren't helping pensioners the way they promised."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the government was tackling pensioner poverty.

From April no pensioner would have to get by on less than 102.10 a week, with the government spending about an extra 7.5bn extra on pensions in the coming year.

"Included in that is around 3.5bn on the poorest third of pensioners, the very people who need the money most," he said.

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