Disappointing pension payouts lead to poverty

15 April 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Pension payments have proved disappointing as half of all single pensioners receive an annual income of less than £6,000, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS statistics, which cover 2005/6 also showed that as many as 62 per cent of pensioner couples had a total pension income of less than £10,000. The research also highlights the importance of the state pension, as the majority of pensioners with a private pension income received less than £1,000 a year.

State pensions far outweighed the income accrued from a private pension in the study. The average annual state pension income was £7,296 for pensioner couples and £5,259 and £5,496 for single men and women respectively. This figure is at least twice as much as the average private pension income of £2,115 for couples, £1,553 for single men and £1,238 for single women.

Joe Harris, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention said: "For years, successive Governments told us that it was okay to keep the state pension low because private company pension schemes would ensure that everyone had a comfortable income in retirement. But these figures prove that was a myth."

The statistics show that around half of all pensioners are living below the poverty line, Mr Harris continued: "100 years after the first ever state pension and 62 per cent of pensioner couples and 50 per cent of single pensioners are living well below the official poverty line.

"It is a national scandal, yet the government’s only solution is to offer people means-tested benefits and a delay in restoring the link with earnings until 2012.

"The country can afford to give all older people a decent pension of at least £135 a week that goes up each year in line with wages. After 100 years, it’s time we ended pensioner poverty for good." Mr Harris concluded.

As the cost of living increases, more and more pensioners are slipping below the poverty line, according to the National Pensioners Convention, around 1.8 million pensioners do not claim the means-tested pension credit offered by the Government, despite being eligible.

This failure to gain extra help when millions of pensioners are living in poverty, suggests a need for more information. The ONS research titled Pension Trends also supports this; the statistics showed almost half of people due to retire had no idea of what their retirement income would be and 30 per cent of people questioned expected their state pension to be their main source of income.

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