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					Poverty and social exclusion for senior citizens in EU

 Prepared by TNS Qual+   19 January 2011

•    2010 marked the European Year for Combating
     Poverty and Social Exclusion

•    Raise public awareness and renew political

•    Guiding principle – to give a voice to people who
     have to live with poverty

•    Against this background, European Parliament
     commissioned study to explore the issues of
     concern to those living in or at risk of poverty

•    Findings to provide direct input to EU Citizen Agora
     on “Crisis and Poverty”

•   TNS Qual+ was commissioned to conduct discussion groups with those living at risk
    of poverty or social exclusion

•   Groups conducted in 18 Member States

•   8-12 respondents per group
     – Participants were aged between 60 and 82, and living under the poverty
        threshold for that Member State

•   Fieldwork conducted 6-10 December 2010

•   The objectives of the research were:
     – Identify the particular issues of concern of those living in poverty/social exclusion
     – Establish the areas that might be covered by the submission to the 2011
        Citizens’ Agora
     – Provide EU policy makers at the 2011 Citizens’ Agora with direct insight into the
        concerns of those living in poverty and social exclusion
     – Recruit participants from across the EU for the consensus conference of the
Feeling that poverty is ignored in society and media

•   Little engagement in society with reality of poverty and social exclusion
     – Under-representation in mainstream media
     – What representation exists is inaccurate or sensationalist

•   Range of key issues that affect everyday lives is not reflected in media:
     – Living costs
     – Health services and care homes
     – Living conditions and immediate environment
     – Intergenerational poverty

•   Media should show real life examples and real everyday issues
     – Draw attention to actual conditions
     – Raise awareness of different reasons why people become poor
 Poor and older people not represented by
 “aspirational” media
                                                I don’t think there’s a lot of media exposure to
 A lot of people just don’t want to hear        poverty, I think there’s more affluence showed
 about this. They close their eyes and                on the television...Everybody is rich,
     ears as they don’t want to be              everybody is beautiful, everybody is thin, you
    confronted with poverty issues.               don’t see a lot of poverty in the media…it’s
            (Female, DK, 81)                     probably that people want to see the affluent
                                                  side of the world, they don’t want to see the
                                                            poverty (UK, female, 64)

Let’s be honest, nobody cares              The elderly are only spoken about occasionally,
about the poor, neither now nor             perhaps in winter when one dies in the street
  in the past. (EL, male, 70)               because of the cold...they’ll talk of the tramp,
                                              someone who has frozen. (IT, male, 66)

               I would like to see how people live in other countries, maybe our
                leaders will see and try harder…they should show us examples
               from all EU countries, we are now globalising, we are part of the
                   EU, they should show us how they live abroad and make
                     comparisons and take measures…(RO, female, 71)
Limited understanding amongst policy makers

•   Feeling that decision and policy makers do not understand poverty and
    social exclusion to any great extent
     – Privileged lives, high salaries, no direct experience

•   Lack of understanding does not mean lack of awareness
     – Statistics on how many people but limited understanding of the reality
       behind the data

•   Limited understanding of the reality of life and impact of existing policies on

•   With no first hand experience, there is scope for citizens affected by these
    issues to act as advisers
  Policy makers removed from reality
                                                      Decision-makers live in a different
                                                        world to us. They’ve all these
                                                      perks, pensions, you name it. (IE,
  They don’t understand                                           male, 71
  the reality of everyday
 life and they don’t even
 make an effort to do so.               Nothing happens because if we ask them how much
       (CZ, male, 64                    a litre of milk is they do not know that. They are not
                                       aware of the prices. They do not have to go shopping.
                                        They know about poverty but they do not know what
                                           poverty is. There is huge wealth and also huge
                                                         poverty (HU, Male, 60)
   The opinion seems to be that
poverty doesn’t exist in Denmark.
                                       They increased the age for retirement, I’m really fed up
But that’s just wrong, it does and
                                         with all this, I can’t work until I die. (EL, male, 60)
  when you don’t even recognise
it things will never be better. (DK,
            female, 77)                                  They should talk to old people to
                                                       understand how they live, being alone,
                                                        completely isolated (PT, female, 72)
Feeling from many participants that EU policies need
to tackle unemployment and living conditions
•   Little awareness from FG participants of EU policy to combat poverty
     – Assumption that poverty is “on the agenda”
     – Little knowledge of actual policies

•   Two main areas for combating poverty:
     – Addressing unemployment
     – Improving living conditions and neighbourhoods

•   Other areas: pensions, healthcare, social assistance, communication

•   Intangible benefits also important for well-being – dignity, representation,
    restoring social inclusion

•   Listening to people
 Employment and pensions are key but feeling listened
 to and valued also important
                                                         My pension of €246 [should] rise
 There’s no work. I don’t really want                   up to the minimum wage, that’s all
 any handouts...so what we need is                              I ask. (PT, male, 67)
        work... (IT, male, 63)

                                                               Consulting the people who
There are people who limit their food spending to only         are actually on the poverty
 3 zloty per day. This means diluting milk with water           line when they make the
and buying a liter of milk and several pieces of bread         policies... (UK, female, 64)
          for the whole week. (PL, male, 69)

                                                                    My pension would be
 Policy makers should have better legislation on age               enough, but not when I
discrimination at work…policy makers should combat               have to pay an extra €500
    employers’ attitude against elderly in the labour               per year to cover care
 market. Employers seem to think that just because                services for my husband,
   you are 60, you do not understand a thing or are                even though he worked
  slow, something I do not identify myself with. (SE,            for 50 years. (DE, female,
                      female, 62)                                            64, )
Benefits of internet are seen but other aspects of
poverty more urgent
•   Around a third had internet access

•   Key barriers:
     – Cost
     – Complexity

•   Mixed views about need for access – generally not main priority

•   Limited access seen to increase loneliness, exclusion, unemployment

•   Desire for subsidised internet access and computer training courses
  Confidence is an issue as well as cost but views on
  internet were mixed

                                             I don’t have a computer, but sometimes visit
  It’s an important communication            my son and get help from him if I need to go
   channel between an individual             on the Internet. But I usually avoid it, I prefer
     and the world. It’s useful for             to do things pr. telephone or mail (DK,
    communication, for shopping,                              female, 79)
      and for contacting different
        offices. (CZ, male, 60)
                                                  We have to make choices, paying for gas
                                                  or paying the internet, or even eating, we
                                                  often juggle with credit cards (BE, Male,
If my pension was a little higher, I would
    like it...I only have a TV with the 4
channels and a telephone that I need to
                                                   We are talking about poverty, let’s be
 call the ambulance when needed. (PT,
                                                    serious, it is unacceptable to talk
                   female, 66)
                                                   about internet when people have no
                                                       food to eat. (EL, male, 64)
Living conditions

•   Many participants expressed some concern about their immediate
     – Anti social behaviour
     – Safety
     – Litter
     – Lack of infrastructure and community space

•   Poor living conditions confirms sense for some of feeling marginalised

•   Cost of living is again the main factor for most with many unable to afford
    heating and basic maintenance costs
                  “They (housing authority) want you to move into an empty
                house, the façade is not even plastered or painted…the wall
               at the back needs to be taken care of…and for a man to come
                  to do it he asked for I don’t know how many thousands of
               Euro to plaster the back and she told me I have to go into the
                    place as it is. There is no kitchen or bathroom, I have
                                   nothing…” (MT, female, 64)

•   Research shows a population who feel ignored by wider society
        • Reality of lives of those in poverty not shown in media
        • Policy makers do not understand what life is like for those facing
           poverty and social exclusion

•   Cost of living, employment, pensions, healthcare all key issues

•   Less tangible aspects also important
     – Feeling listened to, feeling valued
     – Dignity

•   2011 Citizens’ Agora will be a positive example of listening to people
    affected by these issues
     – However has to be supplemented by action
                      “Think about how we live...and listen
                             to us.” (IE, female, 66)