60 Years of Birthday Greetings

The DWP sees itself as the lead Government department on older people.   With a quirky newsrelease (29 May), it sought to link its work on pensions with the Diamond Jubilee, and issued a story entitled ‘Pensioners Change the Face of Britain over the Queen’s Reign’.   So no lack of bureaucratic artiface there, despite Steve Webb’s customary whimsical supportive commentary.

A killer fact is that there are around 13,120 centenarians today compared with 300 in 1952.   The Queen has sent around 110,000 telegrams and messages to centenarians during her reign.   A case of royal writers’ cramp – a case for a quick appeal to fund a new fountain pen and plentiful supply of ink for the years ahead?   We are living a decade longer than our peers in 1952, but only in the last six years or so have we begun to remodel our state pension scheme to reflect our changed society, and only then at a glacial speed.

Beveridge left us a legacy of a flat-rate state pension, designed with the limited ambition of protecting older people from poverty, and based on a model where men worked and paid contributions, with their wives (who worked at home unpaid, and to whom they remained loyally married all their lives) would share if they were widowed.   With a few tweaks, that model remained right into this century.   It is to the credit of the last and present Government that we have seen that model change – if modestly.  Continue reading “60 Years of Birthday Greetings”

Is retiring comfortably a thing of the past?

Since the early 1990s the numbers of people working past State Pension age (SPA) has been continuously on the rise. Although people choose to continue working for a variety of reasons, perhaps the most important is simply ‘for the money’.

However if this is why people keep working, for some it will never be enough.

A whopping 45% of those currently aged 50+ and in employment will have to work for at least 11 years beyond their SPA in order to attain a level of retirement income which maintains their standard of living.

And of course many may never reach this marker – for such people retiring will necessarily mean a drop in living standards.

This is the result of new research by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI), sponsored by Age UK and three other organisations.

The research sets a level of income estimated to bring the equivalent standard of living in retirement, and then poses the simple question: ‘how long will people need to work to reach this?’

The following chart is taken from the report:

PPI chart on replacement rate by SPA

This could have important implications for a variety of reasons.

For example, it indicates that many people will want (or need) to keep working for longer than they may have anticipated. This impacts on individuals who may have to rethink plans for retirement, and provides a further imperative for employers to become more age-friendly.

Also, many people will not be able to work for this long. This is obvious for people who suffer from ill health, but also many who lose their job – even in good health – will find it difficult to re-enter the workforce due to ageist attitudes from employers.

However, the report also looks at the numbers of people attaining a minimum income standard – unrelated to their lifetime earnings – by the time they reach SPA. Happily, the numbers here are much higher (85%), but clearly many people will not be able to continue the same lifestyle if they have such a reduced income.

The research highlights issues facing people both sides of State Pension Age, and shows clearly just how uncertain the future can be without good employment and pension provision.

The full report is available on the Pensions Policy Institute website, and makes for a very interesting read.

Last year Age UK’s More Money in Your Pocket campaign helped 500,000 people put £120 million back in their pockets through free benefits information and advice. This year, we will continue to break down the barriers that prevent people from claiming. For more information, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/moremoney

State Pension Age Announcement – Not far enough?

After many months of campaigning, today’s announcement that women affected by the state pension age changes will wait a maximum of 18 months to claim their pension was welcome news for those women who would have had to wait up to 2 years. 

For many women though we understand that this change does not go near enough and appreciate entirely your disappointment and anger that the Government has not reversed its policy. We understand that you feel let down and angry. 

Age UK has worked with many of you to try and get the Government to  reverse its policy of speeding up the equalisation of SPA and increasing the SPA to 66 sooner than originally planned.   Today was an important step in the right direction, we like you wanted the Government to go further.

Find out more about the Government’s announcement

More Money in Your Pocket launches today

During a time of unprecedented cut-backs and high unemployment, it is rare to hear of any cash going spare. So many people will be surprised and puzzled to discover that up to £5.4billion of pensioner benefits is sitting in Government coffers going unclaimed each year, while 1.8 million pensioners are living below the poverty line. Something is clearly going wrong.

Raising awareness about the importance of claiming pensioner benefits is a perennial problem – but our research shows right now it’s more important than ever that older people get the financial help they need.

This week’s inflation figures clearly showed the problem for many pensioners – a growing gap between living costs and fixed incomes. Despite inflation falling slightly, the Retail Price Index is still at 5.3% with food and fuel rising rapidly, yet pensioners will only see the basic state pension increase by 4.5% this year and other benefits by just 3.1%. Continue reading “More Money in Your Pocket launches today”