Poorest hit hardest by pandemic, according to new figures
The pandemic has had the worst impact on those who are struggling financially, including on their physical and emotional health, financial security, and relationships.
Inequalities are wider among people in their 50s and 60s, and government action is urgently needed to support those who are less well-off to get back on track.
The impact of the pandemic has been felt most harshly by those who are less well-off, according to new figures from the Centre for Ageing Better. From job security and finances to family relationships and emotional health, those who are ‘struggling to get by’ are much more likely to have been negatively affected by the pandemic compared to those who are ‘living comfortably.’ More than seven in ten (71%) adults who are finding it ‘difficult to get by’ are reporting that the pandemic has negatively affected their financial security – five times more than those who considered themselves ‘living comfortably’ (14%).
The figures also show inequalities are wider for those in their 50s and 60s than among the population as a whole, and people in this age group have been hit hard across many areas of life. Over half (56%) say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their emotional health, and almost a third (31%) say it has negatively affected their family relationships. We have previously warned that the pandemic risks worsening inequalities in the way people experience later life.
Today’s new figures highlight the wealth gaps across the population in how people have fared in the pandemic. Nearly six in ten (59%) adults who are struggling to get by have experienced a negative effect on their physical health as a result of the pandemic, compared to just three in ten (33%) who are living comfortably. Another worrying statistic reveals that almost seven in ten (69%) adults struggling financially claimed that their emotional health has declined because of the pandemic.
View and download our slides where we we present findings of our research on how COVID-19 has impact people aged 50-70.
The data on job security is also concerning. It reveals that 52% of adults who are struggling financially reported feeling more insecure in their job than they did before lockdown, compared to 15% who are financially comfortable. Relationships were also affected, with nearly half of adults (46%) struggling financially noting that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their family relationships.
With the end of the immediate health crisis in sight as the vaccination programme rolls out, reducing wealth and health inequalities must be a central plank of the recovery. Older adults from poorer backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and need resources and support to help them recover in the months ahead.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“Whilst the lockdown has been an extremely challenging period for all of us, these new figures show that the impact of the pandemic has fallen hardest on those who were already struggling to get by financially.
“People who are less well-off are far more likely to have experienced financial, emotional and physical hardships during the pandemic compared to those who are living comfortably. All of this means that the already unacceptable wealth inequalities in this country have likely got even worse.
“Our new figures also show that across many aspects of life, inequalities are wider for those in their 50s and 60s. We know that many people approaching later life face huge challenges at a crucial time in their lives, and need support to get back on track.
“As we look ahead to recovery, it is crucial that action is taken to reverse these negative impacts of the lockdown which threaten to widen wealth and health inequalities. The government’s levelling-up agenda must include support for local communities, action to improve poor housing, and support for people of all ages who have lost their jobs to get back into work.”