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Scottish pensioners poorer than English, warns charity

Elaine Smith MSP (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Elaine Smith MSP (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

PENSIONER poverty is worse in Scotland than any other part of the UK, new figures reveal.

Soaring energy costs are being blamed for the fact that nearly one in 10 older Scots is stuck in poverty.

Scotland is now the only part of the UK where persistent pensioner poverty has increased since 2010.

A total of 160,000 pensioners are now classified as living below the bread line, up by a third in the last eight years.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of the older persons’ charity Age Scotland, said: “It’s distressing to think that so many Scots are spending their later lives trapped in poverty, worrying about how to buy food or pay their fuel bills.

“Instead of eradicating pensioner poverty, we’re dismayed that the numbers are moving in the wrong direction, while the number in persistent poverty is higher than other parts of the UK.”

A total of 8% of pensioners in Scotland were in persistent poverty – which means they have been living in poverty for three or more of the previous four years – after housing costs in 2012-16, the same as in 2011-15.

Over the same period, rates in England and Northern Ireland fell to 7% and 5%, respectively, while Wales has stayed the same at 5%.

Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman for the eradication of poverty Elaine Smith said: “These figures are the worst in the UK. Ministers need to explain why this has gone so badly wrong.

“Our pensioners deserve better.”

A spokesman for social security cabinet secretary Angela Constance said: “Older people in Scotland benefit hugely from policies like free personal care, which isn’t available elsewhere in the UK, and free prescriptions.”