Over 50s are suffering the most - Business Works
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Over 50s are suffering the most

T he quality of life for the over 50s is worsening as they are suffering falling income, rising inflation and higher unemployment. They report being increasingly worried about the cost of living and are cutting back on life's pleasures, such as eating out and holidays. Hardest hit are 50-59 year olds, and the lower socioeconomic groups across all over 50 age bands are suffering disproportionately.

The Saga Quarterly Report, a comprehensive analysis of the lives of Britain's 21 million over 50s, has uncovered a bleak picture. The Report, published today, is the first authoritative study to combine serious economic analysis with evidence on well-being, happiness, worries and living standards of over 50s. It makes grim reading.

"People sometimes paint the older generation as ‘the lucky ones’ with fewer problems than others. The evidence does not support this view," says Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, the over 50s group.

"Some are fine, but the majority are currently struggling and the worst affected are just short of retirement. Their pensions will not deliver the income they were expecting, their savings income has evaporated and more are losing their jobs. Once out of work, they find it hard to get back in. In short, their lives may never recover, but their plight has so far been ignored by policymakers."

The Saga Quarterly Report is the first to combine hard economic data with survey evidence on well-being. This echoes the Government's upcoming initiative to measure national well-being, due to start in April 2011.

Saga commissioned respected independent economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) to analyse official economic data for the over 50s, showing trends in their income, unemployment and cost of living. Saga also commissioned Populus to conduct a nationwide survey, asking more than 10,000 over 50s about developments in their happiness, health, standard of living and leisure spending as well as reporting their increasing worries. CEBR analysed these Survey results to compile the Saga Quality of Life Index (QOLI) for the over 50s, which is an innovative indicator of well-being for this important group. Combined with the economic data, the Saga Quarterly Report provides a comprehensive picture of life for Britain's over 50s. It will be updated every three months.

"The Government itself wants to move beyond just looking at economic factors when assessing the nation's progress. Saga agrees and has taken the initiative to do this for the over 50s," stated Ros Altmann.

Key findings of the Saga Quarterly Report

  • Over-50s quality of life has worsened over the past year
  • 50-59 year olds and the lowest socio-economic groups across all over 50 age bands are having the toughest time
  • Inflation is higher for 50-64 year-olds than for the rest of the population
  • Unemployment for the over 50s is 69 per cent higher than it was pre-recession, compared with a 55 per cent rise across all age groups
  • Long-term unemployment has hit the over-50s hardest, with 43 per cent on the dole for more than a year (compared to 27 per cent of 18-24 year-olds)
  • Rising cost of living is biggest worry for over-50s (63% more concerned than a year ago)
  • Falling income from savings worries over half (54%) of over 50s
  • Nearly half the over-50s have cut down on eating out to save money.

Charles Davis, CEBR Economist said: "This report should prove a highly important piece of regular quarterly research. As the UK’s population of people over 50 continues to grow it is imperative that their concerns and challenges are tracked and understood."

Ros Altmann added, "As the Pensions Bill has its second reading in Parliament, policymakers need to recognise these realities. The unemployment findings are particularly worrying. If the over 50s are increasingly locked out of the labour market, measures to increase the state pension age too rapidly could do more harm than good."

"There are 21 million over-50s in Britain, and if they’re cutting back on spending it could have massive implications for the economy."

For further information contact Ros Altmann:
w: saga.co.uk

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