A Mori poll of the over fifties says that older people are financially better off, showing the increasing importance of 'grey power'.

People between 50 and 64 are among the greatest spenders in the country and it is estimated that people over the age of 45 control 80% of the country's financial wealth.

The elderly have more leisure time and are more likely to have savings than younger people with dependents. Mori chairman, Professor Robert Worcester said, "Their economic status and importance as a key consumer group should be obvious."

Many seniors are involved in voluntary work and 24% are politically active, compared with 10% of the population as a whole. They have significant political clout since they are much more likely to vote than 18 to 24 year olds.

'Help the Aged', however, worries that there are many elderly people, particularly the over 65's, who are not well off and are fed up with the government's policies towards health, pensions, transport and fuel bills.

36% feel the NHS is the most important issue facing the country and 55% are dissatisfied with the way the government is running things, compared to 49% of all adults.