Older persons pay their toll of poverty and social exclusion, AGE reminds UN expert


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier De Schutter, has been invited by the European Union to an official visit until end of January. We have seized the opportunity to submit our contribution in which we point out the extent of poverty and social exclusion older people in the EU face, and the impact of the EU’s policies on old-age poverty. AGE also participated in meetings with the Special Rapporteur with the European Anti-Poverty Network and Social Platform.

Incidence of old-age poverty and social exclusion

In our contribution, we report that some groups of older persons are particularly hit by poverty and social exclusion, including older women (particularly the 80+). Old-age poverty is also rampant and shockingly high in a number of EU member States, such as Bulgaria, the Baltic states, Croatia, Malta and Romania, and the phenomenon is worsening over time.

We point out that the European Pillar of Social Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights contain provisions to address old-age poverty and social exclusion, but the issue is only sporadically addressed in the EU social and economic governance framework. In our contribution on reinforcing social Europe, we make suggestions to improve this.

Policies to address poverty: minimum income, long-term care, promoting offline and online inclusion

In our written contribution to the United Nations, we call for an EU framework that will tackle adequate minimum incomes with a life-cycle perspective. This means creating a framework for universal access to accruing pension rights covering all forms of employment and self-employment, establishing care credits for persons who have to leave the labour market to provide care and regular monitoring via the Pension Adequacy Reports. A Council Recommendation on Social Protection and Services for Informal Carers should address informal care in a comprehensive way.

Finally, we point out that fighting social inclusion and isolation, particularly in the context of digitalisation, requires creating policies that enable inclusion. This means expanding initiatives on digital skills and connectivity to all age groups, ensuring universal access to health and long-term care, promoting intergenerational activities and volunteering after working life.

The written contribution to the UN Special Rapporteur is also an occasion for us to highlight the impact of COVID19 and the measures countering the pandemic on older persons’ social exclusion.

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