The biggest financial worry for almost a quarter (23%) of people aged 65 and over is that their savings will run out, and one in 13 (8%) worry most about paying for help and support if they need it, including care costs. Meanwhile an estimated 3.5 million older people (31%) have run out of money before the end of the month. That’s according to a new survey by Independent Age, the older people’s charity, to launch its new free Moneywise advice guide for older people, their families and carers.

The survey, which took place after the March 2016 Budget, found that:  

  • An estimated 1.2 million (11%) people aged 65 and over don’t expect to have the money needed to pay for their funeral. Furthermore, an estimated 798,000 (7%) older people expect a relative or friend to pay for it
  • Excluding mortgage debt, a quarter (25%) of people aged 65 and over are in debt and the average debt is over £1800. An estimated 912,000 (8%) older people have debts of more than £5000
  • On average, among those aged 65 and over, men have more debt than women with an average of £2287-worth of debt, while women had an average of £1250-worth of debt

There are 11.4 million people aged 65 and over in the UK[1], and 1.6 million of them live in poverty – 900,000 of whom live in severe poverty[2].

Pensioners who are not claiming the benefits they’re entitled to are, on average, missing out on £41 a week or £2,100 a year.[3] Spread across the year, this is the difference between being able to pay for a typical dual-fuel bill versus struggling to heat their home. In total, £3.7 billion goes unclaimed for all benefits for older people each year.[4]

In terms of unclaimed financial support for people aged 65 and over, the survey results show that:

  • An estimated 4.4 million (39%) have never checked to see if they would be eligible for benefits such as Pension Credit or Council Tax Reduction
  • Almost half (48%) didn’t know they could get a 25% discount on Council Tax if they live alone

The survey also found that over one-fifth (21%) of people aged 65 and over do not have any money saved for unexpected costs, such as repairing a broken boiler or paying for a dental emergency. Over one-quarter (26%) of older people would turn to family and friends if they needed financial advice and an estimated 684,000 (6%) wouldn’t know where to turn.

One in six (17%) of those polled would be interested in a benefits check to find out what they are entitled to, but wouldn’t know how to do it. Independent Age runs free benefits checks for anyone aged 65 and over who wants to find out more about what they might be able to claim.

The survey supports the launch of Independent Age’s new Moneywise guide, which provides practical advice and tips to older people, their families and carers on how to boost income and save money. The guide covers topics such as how to reduce bills, housing costs, travel costs, how to boost your income and understanding benefits and taxes.

Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, said, “These results clearly show that many older people are worrying about their finances and don’t always know who to turn to for advice. Topping up your income becomes much more difficult the older you get, but bills still need to be paid. However, there is help available. Anyone who needs more information about how to save money and boost their income should order a copy of our free Moneywise guide or call our free advice line.”

The Independent Age Moneywise leaflet can be ordered for free via www.independentage.org/moneywise or by calling 0800 319 6789. Free benefits checks can be arranged by calling 0800 319 6789.

About the survey

Censuswide surveyed 2000 people aged 65 and over who live in the UK on behalf of Independent Age from Thursday 24th to Tuesday 29th March 2016. The numbers of older people have been worked out on the basis of 11.4 million people aged 65 and over in the UK.

[1] Mid-2014 Population Estimates UK Office for National Statistics, 2015

[2] Households Below Average Income 2013/14, Department for Work and Pensions, June 2015

[3] Income Related Benefits, Estimates of Take-up, Department for Work and Pensions, June 2015

[4] Income Related Benefits, Estimates of Take-up, Department for Work and Pensions, June 2015 - £3.7 billion stated in Age UK Chief Economist Report, June 2015

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