“Retirement Age Rage”

This is a discussion which will rumble on for ages.  It is one of the biggest social policy issues of our time and one where I have a clear sense of direction, but am not yet sure what outcome I think there should be.  So this is a blog to open a debate.  It poses questions but waits for your answers before forming a clearer view.  Here are a few headings to consider:-

Default Retirement Age

This is the age that it was assumed you would retire and start to pick up your state pension.  It was 60 for women and 65 for men.  I don’t know where this age difference came from?  It doesn’t square with the fact that women live longer than men – so why should they enjoy more time in retirement.  Currently this inequality is being phased out, and leveled up to 65, albeit over a very long period of time.

The equality issue has now been overtaken by age discrimination considerations and on that basis the default retirement age looks likely to be swept away by October 2011.  This must be correct.  It cannot be right to force people to leave work purely on the basis of age and many employers have already waived compulsory retirement.

The Cost of Retirement

There is an underlying economic argument in favour of later retirement driven by the suggestion that we can’t afford to let people retire.  Certainly it’s true that most people don’t save enough for their retirement.  This is largely because pension schemes did not anticipate increased longevity and are now significantly under-funded.  Worse still, Central Government did not save anything at all for public employee pensions and will increasingly be severely embarrassed by the need to cover the costs of final salary pensions.  I am not at all sure this argument stands up if the economy is not growing and people who don’t retire displace younger people who can’t get a job and claim unemployment benefit.

Nonetheless, these two drivers of human rights and economic necessity seem to have enabled Government to move very quickly to declaring the default retirement age dead.  What’s more it has been accepted without much debate, which suggests it is an acknowledged fact that we need to retire later.  Rather ironic when I have just retired myself.   Perhaps I better get back to work again – there are certainly a lot of un-thought out consequences to scrapping a fixed retirement age but generally the Government getting out of the way and letting people make their own decisions is an approach I agree with. 

Health Care Costs

The bigger issue which is only marginally addressed by removing a fixed date to retire is – how is old is age to be funded in the future?  This is not a debate about pensions – inadequate as they may be – it is really an issue of how health care for the elderly should be provided?  And how it should be funded?  It is a matter which is central to the future of western society and will call into question all our values and beliefs.

So before I venture forth with any proposals I would welcome your comments on your own experience of retirement and your views on how retirement can be funded in the years ahead ?

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4 Responses to “Retirement Age Rage”

  1. david w freeman says:

    This retirement issue has been on the back burner for a long time. Back in 83/4 when I was involved in TU associations the then Civil Service Unions and the government of the day (Thatcher) agreed that for the future the compusory retirement age would have to be set at 70. This is where we are now. For those in the darken back room this is no suprise. But the media like a circus.

  2. david w freeman says:

    Health care costs. This is a little unwise to get at the elderly. We and our parents payed NI and we where told this was for health care? This issue needs handling with care, as like others I feel resentment that no funding for this issue which was is forseeable was not counternanced for. We need a broad church on how government finances are handled especially underspends in any one period.

  3. david w freeman says:

    Retirement costs and pensions. We did i believe have a general belief in saving for the future. This has been distroyed by spend spend attitude of the modern day without recourse morally or politically to the virtue of those on limited income must or at least should consider Mr Macawbers Principles, and prepare for that rainy day.

  4. David Evans, Cardiff. says:

    I have retired twice and started work again both times. I am now well past “retirement age” and only work part-time but enjoy every minute of it.
    Getting up and out several days a week is what keeps me going. Meeting people and having something positive and helpfull to do, reminds me and those around me that there is life in the old dog yet.

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