It concluded that pensioners now need £262.76 a week to get by – which is a rise of 30% from the estimate in 2008.
Part of the rising cost of living has been compounded by local cuts, such as reduced rural bus services, which mean that for many, a car is now deemed essential. The cost of many basic items have also risen faster than prices in general. At Independent Age, pensioners tell us that food, fuel and travel cost more and they struggle to make ends meet. They are also having to pay for items that weren’t previously needed, such as access to the internet. The need for this is increasing not just to allow people to stay in touch, as the JRF report suggests, but because it is often the only way to get information and services from government and companies. As a result, the report highlights, for too many pensioners, the day-to-day reality is that it is difficult to make ends meet.
It’s more bad news on the financial front for older people as research, this time by the Office of National Statistics, has shown that baby boomers suffered the biggest wage falls during the financial crisis. Their study of UK wages over the past four decades shows that later generations have in fact been better paid - workers aged 21 in 1995 were paid an average of 40% more in real terms in their first 18 years employment than those aged 21 in 1975. The trend has been partly explained by statutory wage freezes in the 1970s and the series of recessions which have hit the older group, but not those who started their careers in the 1990s.
Still that hasn’t dampened their generosity. By working, caring for the sick, volunteering and looking after grandchildren, the over-65s worth is now at record high – Age UK has valued their worth to the nation at £61bn, proving that pensioners still have an awful lot to give and to contribute to their communities.