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The effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on people over 50

4 min read

SunLife asked people over 50 to complete an online survey that discusses how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected them so far, looking at their lifestyle, employment and personal finances.

Read on to see our findings.

1. Report background

The research was commissioned in December 2020.

In total, 1,051 online interviews were completed with people over 50 via an online panel.

Our aim was to get an accurate picture of what people over 50 have experienced and are currently experiencing due to the pandemic.

The data has been weighted to nationally representative profiles and explores the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on their lifestyle, employment and personal finances.

Over 1,000 interviews were completed

71% of those asked own their own home either with a mortgage or outright.

  • 54% own their home outright
  • 17% own their home with a mortgage

64% of respondents are married or living as married

40% are retired, and 28% are working full time.

Average household income is £27,500.

Employment status

28% in full time employment

28%


4% Self-employed

4%


11% in part time employment

11%


6% Unemployed

6%


0% Student


7% Full-time responsibility for home/family

7%


40% Retired

40%


2% Other

2%

2. Current circumstances

Employment

Just under 1 in 10 have lost their job during the pandemic period.

1 in 6 were furloughed.

Amongst those currently in full-time employment, one third (34%) were furloughed.

Sectors with the highest proportion of individuals furloughed included the hospitality sector and those working in the construction sector.

Finances

21% of people asked have supported their family members during the Covid-19 crisis, most often by gifting them money.

Over 1 in 5 have supported their family financially during the crisis.

1 in 6 have had their working hours or pay cut during the pandemic.

Almost half of business owners had reduced their working hours.

And 1 in 8 had their pensions affected by the pandemic – with average monthly contributions falling by just over half since the pandemic began.

Average pension contribution before the pandemic per month (average) Average pension contribution now per month (average)
£75 £35

Mental health

A third of all over 50s asked have seen a decline in their mental health during the pandemic.

But, many (56%) still remain hopeful for the next 12 months.

3. Impact on personal finances

A quarter of respondents said they were financially worse off due to the crisis.

4 in 10 say the pandemic has made them feel differently about their money.

Top mentions of why they are worse off financially include salary cuts, increased bills and furlough.

These individuals report being worse off by an average of £300 a month.

Which of the following reasons best describe why this is the case [worse off]:

30% Hours or salary cut

30%


29% Bills have increased

29%


25% Furloughed

25%


15% Lost my job

15%


9% Pension impacted

9%


7% Business forced to shut

7%


6% Change in government support/benefit entitlements

6%


6% Lower interest rates/returns on my investments

6%


5% Loved ones employment status changed

5%


2% Loss of rent on property

2%


3% Something else

3%

Of those who said they are better off, most attribute this to the fact they are spending less.

1 in 6 said their income increased during lockdown.

On average, those who are better off are better off by £200 a month.

1 in 7 had to do something drastic during the pandemic to make ends meet.

This included selling belongings, taking out a pension lump sum, taking out a loan and taking a mortgage holiday.

4. Impact on lifestyle

Over 4 in 10 of those who work full time say their work/life balance has improved because of the crisis.

People are spending more time reading, gardening and cooking.

  • 26% say they have a better work/life balance due to lockdown.
  • 44% of those in full time employment say they have a better work/life balance

4 in 10 over 50s had never had a video call before the pandemic – compared to just a quarter now.

Half expect to continue using video calls to keep in touch with others.

4 in 10 had a holiday booked in 2020.

  • 26% had a holiday abroad
  • 19% had a UK holiday booked

8 in 10 had to cancel their holiday

We asked if there was anything people had been forced to change because of lockdown or government restrictions, that they will continue to do even when they don’t have to.

Top mentions included ‘walking more’, ‘going out less’ and ‘staying 2m away from everyone.'

Just 1% said they will no longer provide childcare for their grandchildren.

We asked the thing they hate most about lockdown. Most notably, people mentioned not being able to see their family and friends, not being able to travel and having restrictions imposed on their life.

We also asked what they’re most looking forward to when the pandemic is over.

Their responses, in order of most popular to least popular, are below:

  1. Holidays/travelling
  2. Seeing my grandchildren
  3. Seeing my children
  4. Not wearing a face mask
  5. Hugging people
  6. Being in someone else's house/having people at my house
  7. Meeting more than one friend
  8. A pint without a substantial meal
  9. Shopping freely
  10. Sporting events
  11. Haircuts
  12. Going to festivals/gigs
  13. Not sanitising my hands every 5 seconds
  14. Going back to church
  15. Not seeing little '2 metre' feet all over the pavements
  16. Having sex with a partner that I don't live with
  17. Dating (again)
  18. Seeing my partner that I don't live with
  19. Playing team sports (again)
  20. Pampering - nails/facials etc
  21. Going back to my art/pottery/WI meetings
  22. Going back to my yoga/dance/Zumba/spin/legs, bums and tums class

Over 50s are most looking forward to travelling again, along with seeing their children and grandchildren.

If you are struggling due to the effects of the pandemic, here's a list of 10 websites that can help.

Useful resources for support:

Mind

AgeUK

Recross