March 5, 2011

IRELAND: What recession -- as good times continue to roll for the over-50s

DUBLIN, Ireland / The Independent / Business / Personal Finance / March 5, 2011

By Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

NO recession here, thank you very much, seems to be the mantra of older people.

Two-thirds of those over 50 say the recession has not had a major impact on their lives, despite saying they have seen their incomes fall.

The majority of older people have not had to cut back on holidays or eating out and are still buying new cars, the survey by 'Amarach' -- which has been seen by the Irish Independent, -- shows.

The relatively good fortune of older people is in stark contrast to those in their 30s and 40s, who have been hit hard by spiralling debts and tax rises.

Britain' s over- 50s are swapping slippers for safaris with grandparents going on gap- year breaks. Photo: PA

In contrast to their sons and daughters, most of the over-50s have not had to make any drastic changes to their spending patterns.

Some 84pc of those over 50 are mortgage-free. Even though many older people plan to be more cautious with their money, they are still more inclined to spend on home improvements and holidays than any other age group.

Three out of four people over the age of 56 have savings. This is a higher proportion than any other section of society.


The two main banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, have the majority of the business of the over-50s, as older people show a loyalty to established financial institutions.

The research, which was conducted ahead of a conference entitled 'The Business of Ageing' in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham in Dublin next Wednesday, shows that the over-50s are avid switchers.

Large numbers have switched their car insurance, electricity supplier and bank and move from supermarket to supermarket. Cost is the main impetus for this.

The 'Amarach' survey found that sentiment among the over-50s was positive. They are optimistic about themselves and how they feel. However, they have an overwhelmingly negative view of Ireland and the domestic political scene.

Even though 71pc said their income had decreased significantly in the last 12 months, 66pc said the recession had not had a strong impact on their lives.

This is despite the fact that pensioners were hit in the last Budget by a cut in the tax credits for the over-65s. Also, the new universal social charge hit everyone harder, while DIRT savings tax went up.

Those on public sector pensions were hit with an average cut of 6pc in their payments.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that many older people are helping out their heavily indebted children by giving them money.

Charlie Weston
Personal Finance Editor
Irish Independent