Thousands Of Pensioners Will End Days In 'Pauper's Graves' Warns Charity
Around 40,000 people each year have a state-funded burial or cremation when they die "penniless", a charity has said.
The figure includes 21,000 people aged over 65 who "end their days alone, penniless and in pauper's graves", the older people's charity Anchor said.
Broadcaster Esther Rantzen and charity officials plan to visit 10 Downing Street today to lobby the Government to appoint a Minister for Older People to tackle issues affecting the elderly.
They will hand over a "Grey Pride" petition backed by 130,000 people - including comedian Tony Robinson, One Foot In The Grave star Richard Wilson and Birds Of A Feather actor Linda Robson.
The charity took an average of figures from 2006 to 2010 it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
It found that the number of Department for Work and Pensions Social Fund Funeral Payments for the over-65s has remained broadly consistent over the period. But the number rose by 14% in the South East and 8% in the East Midlands.
Jane Ashcroft, the charity's chief executive, said: "These sad figures speak for themselves. Close to 40,000 people, mostly elderly, are dying around us with no family or friends nearby to care for them every year.
"Our ageing population is growing and so is the worrying picture of isolation and loneliness across the country.
"This is why it is so important that older people are given a voice at the highest level. We are urging the Government to listen and appoint a Minister for Older People."
The charity pointed out that Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed a shadow minister for care and older people last month.