According to the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), in 2009-2010 around 1.8 million or 16% of pensioners (out of a total pensioner population of around 11.5 million) were living in poverty, defined as having an income after housing costs of less than 60% of median income.1 The number and proportion of pensioners living in poverty had fallen from 2.7 million and 26% in 2000-2001.
On this basis social security has not eliminated poverty in old-age in the UK. While it may be true that few pensioners are living in absolute poverty, it is generally considered more appropriate to apply a relative measure of poverty.
However, the UK government has announced further pension reforms to try and reduce the number of pensioners who are living in poverty. At the same time the UK government is trying to control the amount spent on pensions in the face of increasing numbers of people from the baby boom generations reaching state retirement age and continuing increases in longevity at old age.
This paper describes the various measures that are being introduced or are being proposed. I will first trace out the history of the current proposals by looking at the commission established by the government in 2002 and then look at how the conclusions of this commission have been developed by the current administration.Report:
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