Guest blog – Financial Resilience at Retirement: Maximising Income

This guest blog was contributed by Laurence Baxter, Head of Policy and Research at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

Having looked at the next generation of pensioners in the first roundtable entitled Is it too late to save, the Age UK Financial Services Commission then turned its attention on 6 February to the early to middle years of retirement. Hosted by Mercer, leaders from across the financial services industry debated a number of hot topics which are summarised below.

Managing early retirement while considering the longer term

Individuals in the first decade of retirement face the potential for economic, lifestyle and health shocks, underlying the importance of financial resilience for this group. One complexity was the different types of pension pots people have as a result of multiple employers. There is the transition from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution, so some of pension  pots will be final salary schemes while others are money-purchase.  Changing patterns of retirement from a single watershed event to more of a process will also be significant.

While early retirement is not without its bends in the road, people in this group still need to be mindful of issues that could arise later in life such as long-term care and how or whether they use home equity.

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Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

Financial services – access all areas?

The Government has taken an important step forward in ensuring that financial services work for older people. It proposed an amendment to the Financial Services Act which, for the first time, gives the regulator a mandate not just to protect consumers, but also to ask whether consumers can access the products and services they need.

Age UK has been calling for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to be given this ‘access mandate’.  We’ve been convinced of the need for the regulator to look at access because of what we hear from older people – we see many problems caused not just by dangerous products that consumers should be protected from but also because of the lack of products and services that are really accessible to older people.

200x160_moneyBarriers vary:  it could be direct age discrimination – being told you’re ‘too old’ for a mortgage, or credit card, or insurance.  Or it could be indirect, having to jump through so many hoops to find and obtain the right kind of insurance that you give up.   Often the design of services mean they just don’t work for large groups of older people – for example relying on text messages for updates and removing paper statements will make it harder for many older people to manage their money well, the reduction of the branch network and poorly designed telephone and online banking systems will make it almost impossible for others to manage independently at all.
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Missing a Trick – The Older Consumers Business Forgot

In case you hadn’t heard, the UK is getting older. There are now more people in the UK aged 60 and over than there are under 18. That number is projected to rise by over 50% in the next 25 years .

And, if those statistics aren’t impressive enough, in 2010, as a group, they spent £111 billion – a not insignificant sum by anyone’s calculation, particularly in these straitened times.

So, it would seem common sense that everyday services and goods, automated or not, from mobile phones to booking cinema tickets or paying bills, should all be designed to be easily accessible to this growing section of the population..

Sadly, that’s not generally not the case.

Age UK is regularly contacted by older people who are perpetually frustrated at their experiences trying to carry out every day chores whether it be doing the shopping or contacting their energy provider or bank.

Automated phone systems seem to be especially disliked. They are hard to use for those with hearing problems. The multiple choices they offer can be confusing and frustrating and not just for those in later life. Continue reading “Missing a Trick – The Older Consumers Business Forgot”