Unreported: pensioner poverty falls by 900,000

New figures show that there are 900,000 fewer pensioners in poverty than 10 years ago. But the mainstream media have largely reported this as 2 million in poverty.

New figures out this morning from the ONS show that the number of pensioners living in poverty has fallen by 900,000 over the last decade. But egged on by the ONS, the mainstream media have largely reported this as a snapshot rather than looking at the progress that has been made.

The ONS press release titled, “Two million pensioners in poverty in 2007/08” outlines that:

“In 2007/08, an estimated 2 million pensioners in the UK were living in poverty according to the most commonly used official measure, says a new chapter of Pension Trends published today by the Office for National Statistics. The number of pensioners in poverty has declined over the last decade, from 2.9 million in 1998/99.”

This graph shows how the number of pensioners living in poverty has fallen. Chapter 13 of the accompanying Pension Trends report says:

“In 1994/95, 28 per cent of pensioners fell below the 60 per cent threshold; by 2007/08 this had fallen to 18 per cent.”

Few news outlets have yet reported the figures and most have adopted the ONS’ headline. They only mention the improvement over the last decade in the text of the article. For example:

Daily Mail: Two million pensioners are living in poverty – with half unable to afford heating

Guardian: 2m pensioners in poverty, says ONS

Press Association: Two million pensioners in poverty

Three cheers for balance to the BBC who go with “Pensioner poverty ‘drops by a third’.”

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