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In England, total spending on Pension Credits (income support payments for low-income pensioners) reduced by 6.5% in 2012. The research investigates why deaths rates for older pensioners, which had been in decline, began to rise again after 2010 and whether this trend was linked to budget cuts.
Using statistical models, the study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine finds that the drop in Pension Credit spending in 2012 corresponds with a 1.4% rise in the death rates of those aged 85 or over (as compared with 2011). During this period there was also a drop in the numbers of people receiving Pension Credit, further corresponding to increases in death rates of 2.7%. Taken together, the researchers say these two changes in the support system for older persons may account for a large share of the observed rises in old age mortality since 2010. The researchers found similar patterns for both men and women, with weaker links for pensioners aged 75 to 84 and no links for those below the age of 75.
The research was carried out by the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Glasgow and the University of Liverpool. Researchers analysed Office for National Statistics data on the death rates of pensioners across England between 2007 and 2013, matching it with figures on welfare expenditure, including Pension Credit spending, across 324 local authorities. They looked at both the numbers claiming Pension Credit and how much funding they received after the cuts had taken effect.