National politics

Free life

The comments by David Norgrove, the UK’s pensions regulator, reported today by the BBC, are I suspect just the start of a massive debate. The credit crunch and Gordon Brown’s destructive stewardship of our economy are going to blight our national life and stunt our ambitions for at least a decade. Our pensions system, and more widely the attitude of our older people and society’s attitude to them in turn, will be a key factor in our wealth and happiness during this period.


Norgrove today points out that people like me are getting 6 hours of free additional life every day. The graph above, reproduced from National Statistics here, is stunning. It is a straight line. Nobody quite knows why the graph keeps going up, or when it will stop. Indeed, some scientists say that the first woman who will live for 1,000 years may already have been born.

The great question for our society, and the key to how wealthy we will be for decades to come, is how do we use these extra hours? Do we sit around collecting silver and assets? Do we buy 2017 gold eagle coins and dig a hole in the backyard to bury them for a rainy day? Do we sit around expecting our children and grandchildren to sub us or do we earn our keep? It is right that people should be given some years of retirement at the end of their lives. Even if you feel that this time is paid for by your own savings the economic fact is that you are supported in retirement by the industry of the young.

Our plans for changing people’s expectations of retirement are incredibly unambitious. Right now, pensionable age is 60 for women, 65 for men. That will rise to 66 in 2024, to 67 in 2034 and to 68 in 2044. For myself, at 47, I will be entitled to a state pension at 66. Norgrove suggests 70. My own father retired at 70 almost 20 years ago (during which time life expectancy from men increased 6 years). I fully expect, health allowing, to work until 75.

We need to move much faster to 70 being a normal retirement age with the possibility for people to work beyond that even and enhance their pension if they need to. We also will have to look at pushing the qualifying age for other benefits associated with old age out to 70 too. Our taxes will be much lower, our national debt will be much lower, our young people will be unburdened with supporting a rising elderly population, our older people will be enjoying additional years of happy, productive life. Our working lives need to lengthen, not our retirements. If you are looking for at home care for a loved one visit

One reply on “Free life”

Your conclusion is correct but the jobs need to be there for older people to do and there needs to be a change in attitude to employing older people.

I lost my job just before my 64th birthday but despite a 30 year career in IT and Telecommunications and various other skills, could I find a job?? Nothing, despite dozens of applications sent off and numerous interviews for jobs for which I was well qualified.

The answer, as it turned out, was to apply for Temporary work which was Hourly Paid in a totally different field. They took me on for 6 weeks, not exactly ideal, but one thing led to another and I am now on a short term contract.

The point is that anyone in their sixties, or even in their fifties, who loses their job, finds it difficult to get back in to employment. There is no doubt in my mind that ‘ageism’, while it may not be overt, is still alive and well.

It also explains why so many of our politicians are either lawyers, barristers, accountants, or have ‘other outside interests’. When they are no longer elected, these are professions they can always go back to where age is no barrier.


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