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NEW RESEARCH SHOWS LINK BETWEEN HOUSING AND PENSIONER POVERTY IN LONDON

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In a report published by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, research shows that after taking into account the ca...
In a report published by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, research shows that after taking into account the capital's high housing costs more than a quarter of London's pensioners live in a household with a 'below poverty line' income rising to a third for pensioners living in inner London.

The report 'Low incomes among older people in London ??? interim findings on pensioner poverty' was presented by the mayor yesterday at the second London Older Peoples Assembly held at City Hall. The completed final report will be published in 2004. The report follows the Greater London Authority's report of 2002 ??? London Divided.

Addressing the London Older Peoples Assembly, Mr Livingstone said:

'Pensioner poverty in inner London is a problem. I therefore commissioned this further research on the factors contributing to low incomes among London's older people, which shows that the true levels of pensioner poverty can only be assessed by taking account of London's high housing costs.

`The interim research also shows that poverty rates are particularly high for two groups of inner London pensioners ??? those living alone and those living in rented accommodation. London's pensioners can be sure that the report's final findings will inform development of my future policy towards social inclusion.'

The London Older Peoples Assembly is held in the City Hall's Chamber and organised by the London Older Peoples Strategies Group (LOPSG) which is the Mayor's main forum for consulting with older people in the capital. This year the London Older Peoples Assembly is being supported by Help the Aged.

Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said:

'London presents unique challenges and unique opportunities to older people.

'The London Older People's Assembly gives the capital's seniors a forum to share experiences of all aspects of living in London, from crime to the environment and from transport to healthcare.

'It is also an opportunit y for London's older people to engage with the Mayor and his staff, and to discuss the issues that are important for quality of life in the capital.

'The mayor is setting an excellent example to national, local and regional bodies of government in the way his office is actively consulting with, and seeking the involvement of, older people.'

The London Older Peoples Assembly provides an opportunity for older Londoners to talk first hand about the experiences of their everyday lives and living with poverty and so that recommendations for improvements can be discussed.

Joe Harris, chair of London Older People's Strategies Group commented:

`We welcome the further insight that this interim research provides into the poverty suffered by many London pensioners and look forward to engaging further with the Mayor in the formation of future policy to reduce poverty among pensioners across London.'

Key points from the report are attached and the full interim report can be downloaded here.

Notes

1. London Older People's Strategies Group is a voluntary group representing the views of over 100 older people's groups in London. LOPSG's aim is to ensure that these views are presented to the mayor and that consultation on his policies for London is an active process. London Older Peoples Assembly, first held in November 2002, is one of a number of LOPSG organized events supported by the mayor of London. This year the event is also being supported by Help the Aged.

2. The new research, published by the Greater London Authority (to be completed by 2004) follows the publication of London Divided, the Mayor's 2002 report on income inequality and poverty in London, which revealed high rates of pensioner poverty. The interim report will, in addition to providing interim results, also set out the context for the more detailed analysis of pensioner poverty in London to come.

Low incomes among older people in London

Interim findings from the GLA research on pensioner poverty'

KEY POINTS

Fourteen per cent of London's 7.2 million residents are of retirement age or older compared with 18 per cent of the population of England & Wales. 64 per cent of those over retirement age are women.

The total population of London is set to increase by 711,000 people to 7.9 million by 2016. Persons over retirement age will be 13 per cent of the total population.

In London overall, 37 per cent of pensioners live alone, varying from just over 30 per cent in Brent to over 50 per cent of pensioners in the City and in Kensington and Chelsea.

A third of pensioners in Inner London rent their accommodation from their local council, more than twice the national average. The proportions renting from a housing association and renting privately are also double the national average.

After housing costs are taken into account, more than one in four pensioners in London is in a household with an income below the 'poverty line'. In Inner London this rises to one in three ??? a higher percentage than in any region or country of Great Britain.

Pensioners living on their own in Inner London are among those most likely to be in low income households, and pensioners in Inner London are particularly likely to be living

in single person households.

Nearly half of all pensioners in rented accommodation in London are in low income households, and over 50 per cent of Inner London pensioners are living in rented accommodation.

Pensioners in London have one of the highest regional rates of Minimum Income Guarantee receipt in Britain - only the North East has a higher rate.

Among pensioners, receipt of means-tested benefit is concentrated in inner east London, with pockets in electoral wards in south and west London.

Within the retirement age to 74 age group, a higher percentage of London residents are in employment compared to the national average in both Inner and Outer London.

However, among the 50 to retirement age group in Inner London, rates of employment are lower than the national average.

The main reason for low rates of employment among those aged 50 to retirement age in Inner London is high rates of permanent sickness and disability, which are at or above 20 per cent for this age group in four Inner London boroughs.

Retirement rates among those aged 50 to retirement age are below the overall rates of those aged 16 to 74. Nationally the figure for the 50 to retirement age group is nine per cent, and in London seven per cent.

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