This week we have a blog from Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director.
It’s not every day that three Government Ministers come to our offices but that’s what happened earlier this week.
On Tuesday we were delighted to be able to offer around sixty older people the opportunity to talk to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith and the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb.
The event coincided with the publication of the Government’s Taxation of Pensions Bill, which will put into law the huge shake up of the pension system announced by the Chancellor in the Budget earlier this year.
A round table of ‘older’ Age UK staff also had the opportunity to discuss the pension reforms and other big issues for them with the Prime Minister before he joined the larger group of older people, Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Webb, where he briefly outlined the pension changes to come.
Among other things, the Prime Minister said “I think if you’ve worked hard and saved during your life you deserve responsibility in retirement about how you spend the money that you’ve worked so hard for and saved so hard for.” Continue reading “Prime Minister discusses pension reforms at Age UK”
In this blog post, Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy at Age UK, discusses the secret to a sustainable retirement income.
Continue reading “Health, wealth + the pursuit of happiness = a sustainable retirement income”
In this guest blog post, Sally Brett, Senior Policy Officer (Equality and Employment Rights) at the TUC, examines the inequality of survivor pensions.
Continue reading “Widowers and surviving same-sex spouses deserve equal pensions”
Margaret (not her real name) has been married for over 30 years. She worked part-time for many years but this work was low paid, and only during teaching terms, so she never built up her record of NI contributions.
During periods of unemployment Margaret did not claim benefits (and therefore credits which would have counted towards her NI record) because her husband was working. Margaret gave up work to look after her husband when he became chronically ill to help him remain working for as long as possible.
They felt they could manage without claiming carer’s benefits (which again would have protected her NI record), but when he did eventually have to give up work as his condition worsened they made sure that he claimed incapacity benefit, purely so that his NI contributions—and therefore, they thought, Margaret’s pension—would be protected.
Margaret’s husband will reach pension age under the present system, with a full contribution record, which they were always promised would also cover Margaret. However at 59 Margaret finds that the pension she had relied upon will no longer exist.
Continue reading “Missing out under new pensions rules”
In a surprise announcement at the start of 2014 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that maintaining the ‘triple lock’ for the basic state pension will be a key part of the Conservative’s next election manifesto. This would mean that, at least until 2020, the basic state pension would be increased annually by the rise in prices, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher. In response the Labour leader Ed Miliband has also said he is committed to the triple lock.
Reaction has been variable. Some newspapers immediately suggested this would affect other benefits such as the winter fuel payment – the Daily Mail’s headline was ‘Turmoil over OAP benefits’. The Independent welcomed the announcement but said it does not go far enough pointing out that the basic pension is still only £110 a week.
Alternatively, others have focussed on what this means for younger people with the Intergenerational Foundation stating the move is unaffordable and ‘betrays’ the younger generation. Continue reading “Why we need the triple lock”
Last week Age UK launched the second edition of its Economic Tracker . This addition includes the result of the first wave of a survey we have developed to track older peoples’ views on the economy and their financial situation.
It received quite a lot of coverage in the media, particularly because of the startling statistic the nearly a quarter of people in their early 50s were worried about losing their home as a result of falling behind with mortgage repayments. Like other age groups many older people are suffering a fall in income in the current period of austerity and this is having an impact on their well-being.
- Over three million people aged 50+ are very worried about the cost of living. This is in the context of rapidly increasing prices for some essential items, especially utilities, which we know have a significant impact on older people’s finances.
- Only thirty-eight per cent of 50+ say the future looks good for them
- 35% feel worse off financially compared to last year (see chart below)
Since our first edition, the UK economy and economic policy have given us food for thought. There are concerns, disappointments, and one or two silver linings. As our polling data suggests the economic situation is particularly worrying for many of those approaching retirement, tomorrow’s pensioners, who find it more difficult to find a job following redundancy. Our analysis has found that older workers are more likely to be made redundant when compared to those aged between 24 – 49. This translates into higher proportions of older unemployed workers being out of work for longer. Forty-seven per cent of unemployed people aged 50 – 64 have been out of work for 12 months or more compared to thirty-seven per cent of people aged between 25 and 49. The situation of older people is not as bad as those between 16 – 24, but it is important to highlight that all ages are struggling in these tough economic times.
Quite rightly there is a lot of attention on the young unemployed at the moment, but we must ensure that those over 50 are not forgotten. More can be done by the Government and employers to recognise the value of workers over 50 (the experience and skills that come with a longer working life), provide more training and learning for those in later life, and do more to eliminate the ageism that too often occurs in workplaces.
Read more about the impact of the economy on the financial well-being of older people
Find out what benefits you are entitled to
This blog was contributed by Giselle Cory, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation.
We know that many people want to work into older age – yet many do not. So what stops them? For some, caring for family or friends can make paid work near impossible.
For others, their own poor health can be a barrier. And for families on low incomes, it may be that work simply doesn’t pay enough to warrant continuing. This can lead to trouble for families who don’t have the savings they need to maintain decent living standards into retirement.
Universal Credit (UC) the government’s flagship welfare reform, could address some of these barriers. For example, under UC low income households will receive an income boost designed to make work pay.
This system could be powerful in ensuring older people have the incentives they need to remain in work. Yet a new report from the Resolution Foundation shows that while UC offers some benefits to older workers, it also misses an opportunity to raise older people’s incentives to stay in a job, or return to work. Without these incentives, low paid work simply does not add up.
Continue reading “Guest blog – Universal Credit: a missed opportunity to help older workers”