Living on a low income in later life

SCIE Social Care Online
Age UK
Publication date:
01 January 2011


Despite a decrease in the number of older people living in poverty, 1.8 million pensioners (16% of pensioners) still do, and this figure has stagnated. This research provides an in-depth exploration of the experiences of older people living on low incomes. It illuminates the decisions and choices that older people face in managing their finances and the practical and emotional impact of living in constrained circumstances. The research consisted of 25 individual in-depth interviews and 5 focus group discussions with people aged 65-87 years. All interviews and focus group discussions were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. The findings are discussed under the following 5 themes: perceptions of hardship; the practicalities of living on a low income; the emotional aspects of living on a low income; spending decisions; and what protects or disadvantages people’s financial circumstances. The findings show that people were finding life tough living on a low income. Most were strongly averse to debt and believed that you had to live within your means. Those few who had some form of debt demonstrated the difficulty of getting back on track when on a fixed low income. They were very concerned about the current economic climate and about the removal of services that were currently available.