Page last updated at 00:52 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 01:52 UK

Pensioners' lives 'getting worse'

Pensioner
One in four pensioners believe their lives have got worse in the last year

A quarter of UK pensioners feel their lives are getting worse, a report by the merged charity Age Concern and Help the Aged has suggested.

Of 1,000 people aged 65 and over questioned, 24% said their quality of life had deteriorated in the past year.

The charity says that equates to more than two million people across the UK.

The report, "One Voice" tracks progress on issues affecting older people. Of 30 indicators, 13 showed things had got worse, while 13 remained unchanged.

Only four indicators had shown a year-on-year improvement.

A random sample of 1,000 people aged over 65 were questioned across the UK and the results weighted to the profile of all adults in that age group.

Researchers found that 60% of those questioned believed age discrimination exists in the everyday lives of older people - a rise of 7% on last year.

Meanwhile, 52% believed that people planning services were not paying enough attention to pensioners - up 8%.

Stuck in the past

Michelle Mitchell from Age Concern and Help the Aged said: "Loneliness, depression, poverty and neglect blight the lives of millions of older people and for many, evidence shows the situation is getting worse, not better.

"Attitudes to older people are stuck in the past, the care and support system for older people is on the brink of collapse and older people's experiences of isolation and exclusion have largely been ignored by successive governments.

"Despite the economic conditions dominating the headlines, the current government and all political parties must not shy away from addressing the long term challenges of an ageing society.

"Beneath the shocking statistics are real life human tragedies - avoiding the issues is no longer an option."

According to Age Concern and Help the Aged, 19% of pensioners now live below the poverty line, which it says is the equivalent of more than two million people.

It acknowledges that some progress was made last year, with the government committing to a ban on age discrimination, and preparing for a Green Paper to reform social care, but says much more needs to be done.

The report sets out the charity's priorities for action in 2009 and calls on the government to spend between £1bn and £2bn extra on older people's social care as part of any fiscal stimulus. The charity also wants the government to outlaw mandatory retirement ages, and to roll out automatic payment of benefits.

Pensions Minister Rosie Winterton said there needed to be a change in public attitudes towards older people and insisted their needs were "very much a priority" for the government.

"Our commitment to help today's pensioners is resolute with the increase in state pension by 5% from this month and changes from 2010 that will mean women and carers will find it easier to get a full basic state pension," she added.

Age Concern England and Help the Aged have joined together to form a single new charity.



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