Tens of thousands of people die in poverty each year in the UK, suggests study

·3-min read

Tens of thousands pf people die in poverty each year in the UK, with working-age adults are twice as likely to die below the poverty line as pensioners, according to new research.

The Loughborough University study was commissioned by Marie Curie and estimates suggest that in 2019, the latest year for which data is available, 93,000 people died having experienced poverty in the final year of their life - around one in seven of the total number of people who died that year.

This comprised of 68,000 pensioners and 25,000 working-age people who died from any cause.

More than 28% of working-age adults who died were estimated to have been in poverty, compared to 13% of those who died having reached pension age.

The research also suggests that women, parents with dependent children and people from ethnically diverse communities are more vulnerable to poverty toward the end of life.

Experts used a definition of poverty from the Social Metrics Commission, which takes into account "inescapable costs", such as childcare.

Marie Curie said the figures, which are the first of their kind, are "shocking" and "nothing short of a national indignity" and is calling for the state pension to be given to dying people of working age so they do not miss out.

The charity's CEO Matthew Reed said it "cannot be right" that terminally-ill people of working age miss out on their desperately-needed state pension "simply because they are not 'old enough' when they die".

"No one wants to imagine spending the last months of their life shivering in a cold home, struggling to feed themselves, their children, and burdened with the anxiety of falling into debt," he said.

"But for 90,000 people a year that is their reality. It's a far cry from the end of life that we'd all hope for.

"We are staggered to see the scale of poverty among dying people. Simply put, it is shocking."

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The Department of Work and Pensions said that it is their "priority" to provide people with financial support "quickly and compassionately".

"Those nearing the end of their lives can get fast-track access to a range of benefits without needing a face-to-face assessment or waiting period, with the majority of individuals receiving the highest rate of those benefits," a spokesman said.

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"From April, we extended that support for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit, and in this week's Queen's Speech, we announced similar changes to Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, meaning thousands more people at the end of life will be able to access these benefits earlier.

"In addition, the government is taking decisive action to ease pressures on the cost of living, including spending £22 billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty, and our £1 billion Household Support Fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs."

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