One in four older people dependent on State benefits as only source of income

Two new reports have highlighted the major differences in wealth and income levels among the elderly in Ireland.

The reports launched by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development, covering north and south of the border, find that large income differences exist between the richest and poorest older people.

Average weekly disposable income is lower among older people than for any other group apart from the very young.

People aged over 65 have an average disposable weekly income of €446 compared to €654 for those aged 50-64, €790 for those aged between 25 and 49 and €418 for 16-24-year-olds.

More than one in four people over 50 rely on State benefits as their sole source of income, according to the studies.

Author of the one the reports Paul McGill said the poorest older people needed to be protected against further cuts to their income.

"This isn't a case of older versus younger people, or 'we've got to help the old'," he said. "We have to look at inequalities within society generally.

"We need to look at that quarter of older people who are very poor, because they need higher incomes."

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