- More than half of over-60s don’t believe they should qualify for discounts
- Around one in eight over-60s don’t claim free medical prescriptions
New research1 from Charter Savings Bank shows more than half of over-60s don’t believe they should automatically receive the free benefits and discounts they are entitled to because of their age. Its nationwide study found 53% of over-60s oppose discounts for the over-60s, with this figure rising to 61% among the over-70s.
They are the most opposed of all age groups to benefits such as free prescriptions and discounts on rail fares and cinema tickets – 50% of under-35s believe the over-60s should not automatically receive a range of discounts.
However, the over-60s are not opposed to discounts under all circumstances. Around 28% say benefits should be offered at State Pension Age while one in eight (12%) say discounts should only be available to people on low incomes.
The study found a large proportion of over-60s are turning down the discounts and benefits they are entitled to – around 13% do not take advantage of free medical prescriptions. And while the vast majority of over-60s (91%) in Scotland use the country’s free bus pass, almost half (46%) of older adults in London don’t use the city’s free Oyster 60+ card.
Indeed, the over-60s are nationally shelling out an average of £151 a year each on NHS prescriptions, £56 on bus fares, and a further £51 on local metro and underground fares; all of which they needn’t pay for.
And not only are they out of pocket for items that could be entirely free, they are also overlooking a plethora of discounts available to them, the nationwide study revealed. Only 19% of older adults in the UK have taken advantage of senior rail cards and just 8% have capitalised on cheaper menus in restaurants, with a similarly low number (7%) taking advantage of the senior discounts offered in retail outlets.
Proportion of over-60s who do not take advantage of the discounted or free items available to them
||Percentage of over-60s who do not take advantage of this benefit
|Discounts in retail outlets
|Cheaper menu in restaurants
|Senior rail card
|Discounted cinema tickets
|Discounted entry to attractions
|Free older person’s bus pass
However, this does not appear to be a result of moral abstinence. According to the findings, one of the key reasons why so many over-60s are not making the most of the benefits available to them, is simply because they are not aware of their existence.
One in eight people over the age of 60 (12%) do not know that medical prescriptions are free for the over-60s. Nearly half (44%) are unaware that they are entitled to discounts in retail outlets, a quarter (24%) do not know that they can purchase discounted cinema tickets, and over a third (34%) aren't aware that they are entitled to discounted entry to attractions and cheaper menus at restaurants.
Interestingly, the number of people who do not take advantage of age-related benefits because they do not want to admit their age, or because they do not like asking for something that made them feel old, is negligible.
Paul Whitlock, Executive Director, Charter Savings Bank said: “As our country’s population grows older, the age for receiving benefits may change to reflect the ageing population and it’s a debate the over-60s have strong views on.
“However, as it stands, there are nearly 17 million over 60s who are eligible for numerous benefits and discounts, many of which they are passing up on.
“This is one instance where ignorance certainly isn't bliss. They could be saving themselves hundreds of pounds each year by merely taking advantage of the discounts and concessions readily available to them.
“It is important we are all able to enjoy old age and retirement and invest in our family’s future, rather than unnecessarily spending our savings. Educating yourself is key – particularly in today’s volatile climate.”
1 Opinium conducted research among 2,001 adults living in the UK on behalf of Charter Savings Bank between 25th – 28th June 2019