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Poverty and social exclusion for senior citizens in EU Prepared by TNS Qual+ 19 January 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Poverty and social exclusion for senior citizens in EU Prepared by TNS Qual+ 19 January 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Poverty and social exclusion for senior citizens in EU Prepared by TNS Qual+ 19 January 2011

2 Background 2010 marked the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion Raise public awareness and renew political commitment 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

3 Objectives 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 Agora

4 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

5 Poor and older people not represented by aspirational media Lets be honest, nobody cares about the poor, neither now nor in the past. (EL, male, 70) A lot of people just dont want to hear about this. They close their eyes and ears as they dont want to be confronted with poverty issues. (Female, DK, 81) I dont think theres a lot of media exposure to poverty, I think theres more affluence showed on the television...Everybody is rich, everybody is beautiful, everybody is thin, you dont see a lot of poverty in the media…its probably that people want to see the affluent side of the world, they dont want to see the poverty (UK, female, 64) The elderly are only spoken about occasionally, perhaps in winter when one dies in the street because of the cold...theyll 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)

6 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 people With no first hand experience, there is scope for citizens affected by these issues to act as advisers

7 Policy makers removed from reality The opinion seems to be that poverty doesnt exist in Denmark. But thats just wrong, it does and when you dont even recognise it things will never be better. (DK, female, 77) They dont understand the reality of everyday life and they dont even make an effort to do so. (CZ, male, 64 Decision-makers live in a different world to us. Theyve all these perks, pensions, you name it. (IE, male, 71 Nothing happens because if we ask them how much 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) They increased the age for retirement, Im really fed up with all this, I cant work until I die. (EL, male, 60) They should talk to old people to understand how they live, being alone, completely isolated (PT, female, 72)

8 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

9 Employment and pensions are key but feeling listened to and valued also important Policy makers should have better legislation on age discrimination at work…policy makers should combat employers attitude against elderly in the labour market. Employers seem to think that just because you are 60, you do not understand a thing or are slow, something I do not identify myself with. (SE, female, 62) Theres no work. I dont really want any what we need is work... (IT, male, 63) My pension of 246 [should] rise up to the minimum wage, thats all I ask. (PT, male, 67) Consulting the people who are actually on the poverty line when they make the policies... (UK, female, 64) My pension would be enough, but not when I have to pay an extra 500 per year to cover care services for my husband, even though he worked for 50 years. (DE, female, 64, ) There are people who limit their food spending to only 3 zloty per day. This means diluting milk with water and buying a liter of milk and several pieces of bread for the whole week. (PL, male, 69)

10 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

11 Confidence is an issue as well as cost but views on internet were mixed 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 call the ambulance when needed. (PT, female, 66) Its an important communication channel between an individual and the world. Its useful for communication, for shopping, and for contacting different offices. (CZ, male, 60) I dont have a computer, but sometimes visit my son and get help from him if I need to go on the Internet. But I usually avoid it, I prefer to do things pr. telephone or mail (DK, female, 79) We are talking about poverty, lets be serious, it is unacceptable to talk about internet when people have no food to eat. (EL, male, 64) We have to make choices, paying for gas or paying the internet, or even eating, we often juggle with credit cards (BE, Male, 60)

12 Living conditions Many participants expressed some concern about their immediate environment –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 dont 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)

13 Summary 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)

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