Government urged to tackle pensioner poverty

New study reveals that the UK the has fourth highest level of pensioner poverty in Europe

The government has come under pressure to take urgent action on pensioner poverty after a new study found that nearly a third of those aged over 65 are living in poverty.

The European Commission statistics, published by Eurostat, revealed that the UK's elderly were among the most impoverished in Europe, with 30 per cent living on incomes below the national average. The figures mean that Britain now has the fourth highest level of pensioner poverty in Europe.

Most European states had pensioner poverty either below or slightly above the EU average of 19%. Only Cyprus, where 51 per cent of pensioners are living in poverty, Latvia (33 per cent) and Estonia (33 per cent) had higher levels of poverty than the UK.

A review of the government's anti-poverty strategy by the work and pensions committee will be published on Thursday. Campaign groups such as Age Concern and Help The Aged have called on the government to raise benefits as low interest-rates erode the value of savings.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: "What this report clearly shows is that, even before the recession set in, many older people weren't keeping up with the pace at which the general wealth of the nation has increased over the past years. This means they risk being increasingly excluded from community life."

A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said: "It's absolute nonsense to suggest this Government is not committed to pensioners.

Measures such as pension credit and winter fuel payments mean that even the poorest pensioners in the UK are still better off than the poorest pensioners in other countries. Even the poorest pensioners in the UK are better off than the poorest pensioners in France or Germany."