Nearly half of Britons planning to work past 70

By Ryan Smith on June 20, 2018

The ageing workforce in the UK continues to grow.

According to financial planner Malcolm McLean, nearly 23 million Britons will have to keep working after they’ve reached retirement age. Poor returns on investments and the increasing cost of living mean that close to 75 percent of employees in the UK simply cannot afford retirement.

Nearly 50 percent of them will be over 70 before they can stop working, compared to 37 percent only a year ago.

McLean said: “The days of looking upon 65 as the ‘retirement age’ are clearly over. How we work and retire nowadays has got to be very different from those of our parents and grandparents.”

Increased living costs

The research project by Canada Life also reveals that 2018 was the second year in which the number of workers that will have to work beyond 65 increased. It currently stands at 72 percent, compared to 61 percent in 2015. Around 90 percent of workers attribute this situation to increasing living costs.

Nearly 20 percent of individuals expect to remain working until their mid- to late 70s. Baby boomers have been hit particularly hard by insufficient returns on their investments, and downward-spiralling annuity rates have left many with only a meagre pension to survive on.

Boost to the economy

A PwC report, however, found that increasing the number of working elderly people will boost the British economy by up to £180bn per year.

McLean added: “In these circumstances, it makes financial sense to stay in work either full-time or part-time to benefit from the wages, plus the opportunity to save more and/or build up a bigger private pension in the run-up to retirement.”

The Personal Finance Society’s CEO Keith Richards said that pegging the retirement age at 65 happened many years ago but that financial planners currently plan for people to live as long as 100 years. For this, they need more money.

Richards added that with interest rates remaining low, inflation set to increase, and returns from savings accounts being nearly non-existent, it should perhaps not come as a surprise that we have to work far beyond the official retirement age.

The Pension Review’s Mark Abley stated: “Increasingly, it seems the 65 cut-off for retirement is just too soon.”

He added that many individuals liked their jobs and wanted to keep receiving a salary. Working was also an excellent way of staying engaged and active. Accessing one’s pension later was also a good thing, with the reward being a higher income when you finally decide to quit your job.

Desire to work

Baroness Altman, the former pensions minister, had this to say: “It’s really important that older people can keep working if they want or need to.” She added that this could not only boost the economy, but might improve pension and living standards too.

She added that they did not want to force individuals to work if they were not able to, but many elderly people enjoyed part-time jobs as they aged to make sure that they have more money and stay socially active.

State pension age

The current age to qualify for a state pension is 65 for men. For women, it is being gradually increased from 60 to 65. From October 2020, it will be 66 for both sexes, and from 2028, it will increase to 67.

Although the employment rate of 55-69-year-old individuals has improved, when it comes to employing elderly people, Britain still lags behind quite a few other countries. There are also significantly different employment rates for older employees in different parts of the country, from 63.2 percent in Northern Ireland to 75.3 percent in the South East.

An ageing workforce

The Canada Life poll surveyed more than 1,000 workers and revealed divided opinions about the nation’s ageing workforce.

Well over one third (36 percent) believe that to stay working, older individuals will have to learn new skills or be retrained. Around 41 percent think that a mix of different age groups could benefit both workers and employers.

PwC’s Chief Economist John Hawksworth said: “The UK needs to pick up the pace in increasing employment for older workers.”

He added that Britain will have to keep up with countries such as Germany, which has surged from the 21st to the 14th spot in PwC’s Golden Age Index over the last decade. During this time, the UK has slipped one position, from 20th to 21st.

The economic benefits of getting more over-55s into the nation’s workforce are clear, and with increasing automation, it is vital that we make sure that older employees can fully participate in the British employment market.

A spokesperson for Work and Pensions said: “Older people have a lot of life skills and experience to offer the workforce and are a major asset to employers.”

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