Money worries? You’re not alone, survey reveals

Feeling the pinch? You’re not the only one, as a new survey from Age Scotland says over-fifties are more worried than ever about money.

Two in five people are feeling financially squeezed, according to a survey from the charity Age Scotland, with energy bills, food and council tax topping their list of worries.

More than 4,000 people took part in The Big Survey, which gives a picture of what life is like for over-fifties living in Scotland.

Nearly all of those who said they were squeezed are struggling with energy costs, an increase of 82% since the last survey two years ago, when less than a third were worried about their household bills.

But there was some good news, with more than half of those surveyed taking regular exercise, and two in five saying they never felt lonely.

Couple looking at computerCredit: Shutterstock / – Yuri A

“Missing out on life’s little pleasures”

Age Scotland’s survey looks at the views and experiences of over-fifties living in all areas of Scotland – and 70% of those who took part were female. Ages ranged from 50 to 94, with a quarter aged 65 to 69. When it comes to employment, 71% were retired 5% described themselves as semi-retired; and 17% were still working.

People in their fifties and early-sixties were most likely to feel financially squeezed – and 35% worried they might be worse off in the next year. Paying for social care was another concern, with three-quarters saying they didn’t think people should have to sell their home to cover the costs.

Age Scotland’s head of policy and communications Adam Stachura tells Saga Exceptional: “What’s surprised me most is the scale of their financial concerns – and how much more of a worry they are since the last time we did a survey, in 2021.

“Two years ago, the main worries were energy bills, and then council tax, but food is now the second on the list – and they are three things you can’t not pay. While energy prices are going down, there’s no longer the Government help, so people will still struggle.”

As Stachura points out, the survey doesn’t just have implications for today’s over-fifties, but for younger generations, too.

“Three-quarters of older people are having a really tough time, with not much wriggle room,” he says. “Forty per cent are cutting back on socialising, so they’re missing out on life’s little pleasures. We also regularly hear from people whose savings are depleting as they try to keep up with their bills.

“It shouldn’t be about hardship, but enjoying later life – and this isn’t just an issue for pensioners, but for younger people who are planning for the future.”


How do you measure up?

  • Two-thirds of those surveyed describe their health as “very good”
  • Watching TV was the most popular way to relax, with 81% putting it at the top of their list
  • 39% of people surveyed lived alone and a quarter said they liked spending time alone
  • A third took part in volunteering

Most people prefer to see the GP face-to-face

The survey also showed that most people (82%) prefer a face-to-face doctor’s appointment – although NHS figures show that not everyone is getting one.

Figures for Scotland show that in July 2023 (the most recent month with data available), 70.5% of GP appointments were face to face. Meanwhile, new statistics for England have revealed that 67.9% of primary care (GP and nurse) appointments in August 2023 were carried out face to face. (It’s worth noting that statistics in England and Scotland are collected differently, so may not be exactly comparable.)

Group activities to boost wellbeing

The good news is that 52% of people sampled said they exercised regularly, whether that’s a dog walk or an exercise class. Studies have shown the effect of loneliness on the brain and how good being active and spending time with other people is good for you.

“That’s a good number being active, particularly after the pandemic,” says Stachura. “We found that people liked exercising with others, so that can spur you on to do things for longer – you’ve gone out for a class, then you might take a walk and have a cup of coffee. So that’s a longer period out of the house, with more movement, which is good for strength and balance and avoiding the risk of falls in the longer term.”

Even though two out of five people say they are never lonely, Stachura notes people are just as isolated as they were at the end of lockdown.

“The scale of loneliness hasn’t changed since the end of lockdown and we know some groups that were running before haven’t opened their doors again, and that 200,000 older people are relying on local activities for their wellbeing,” he says.

Help and support if you're worried about money

The Age UK helpline is 0800 678 1602, or 0800 12 44222 for Age Scotland. You can access information guides on health, money, housing and more, as well as Age Scotland’s benefits calculator, so you can check what you are entitled to.

Support is also available from Age NI and Age Cymru.

Find out if you’re entitled to help with your energy bills this winter.

Hannah Verdier

Written by Hannah Verdier


Hannah Verdier writes about fitness, health, relationships, podcasts, TV and the joy of reinventing yourself at 50 and beyond. She’s a graduate of teenage music bible Smash Hits and has a side hustle as a fitness trainer who shows people who hated PE at school how to love exercise.

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