UK – The problems of poverty in retirement facing minority communities was highlighted today by the UK’s pensions minister, Ian McCartney.

Speaking at the Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity, McCartney said: " It is a sad fact that currently ethnic minority groups are over-represented amongst the poorest pensioners in Britain. In part this reflects the fact that many people who migrated to Britain, did so in the middle of their working lives, so had less time to build up pension rights in state or private schemes."

But he added that there were numerous other factors, citing race discrimination in employment, language and cultural barriers, which had the effect of forcing these pensioners into poverty.

The government had introduced the minimum income guarantee in 1999 to ensure that no single pensioner should have less than 98.15 pounds sterling (and no couple less than 149.15 pounds sterling) per week to live on.

"We must encourage young people to start planning for their retirement," he said. "Within some minority communities it has been a tradition to care for your parents in old age. The extension of the state second pension to carers will enable many to build up pension rights despite taking time out during their working lives to care for children or elderly relatives."

The Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity was founded in 1998 and works with policymakers and minority organisations in examining the needs of older people in these communities and the provision available to them.