Poverty levels among UK's elderly "shocking"

A charity has described European Commission figures revealing high poverty levels among over-65s in the UK as "shocking".

Data from the European Centre showed that the UK has the fourth highest level of poverty among over-65s in the 27 member states of the European Union.

The figures showed that one in three elderly Britons are living in poverty, compared with a European average of just under one in five.

Brendan Paddy, of Help the Aged and Age Concern, told the BBC: "The findings are quite shocking, particularly because some years ago we were beginning to see poverty amongst older people in the UK begin to drop, but that progress has now very definitely stalled."

He added that low take-up of means-tested benefits could be a significant factor behind the trend.

"There's some people who are just too proud to say, you know, I'm going to actually apply for this [benefit], whereas if it was part of their standard pension they'd accept it as their due," he said.

However, a Government spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said the poorest pensioners in the UK are still better placed compared to those in other EU countries, such as France or Germany.

"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," he said.