All Work & No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy!

Old Man
I'm not 'old' just more experienced

Or so the saying goes… I have to admit that Mr Grumpy has always subscribed to that ethos throughout his working life…

I have never been able to get my head around those who live to work – I always worked to live… Obviously, unless you are handed down a massive stash from a well to do parent, work is a necessary evil that we all have to partake in to pay the bills. However, there comes a time for all of us when work should end, when we’re entitled to some quality time in our twilight years.

In the UK, all workers have always expected that employment will end at the age of 65 (at the latest) with a state pension – even if they didn’t want to retire. I understand there are some who want to keep active, without a forced retirement at that age however, I suspect there are even more who would actually retire much earlier, given the opportunity.

With the advent of the Yuppie in the 1980s and the propensity for burn out prior to the age of 50, many people developed the desire (or need) for early retirement. That was fine, so long as the individual made his or her own financial provision for these plans. Unfortunately, a large proportion didn’t and much of the nation’s workforce (often because of jealousy) began to expect financial security during retirement. Without actually contributing any more than their statutory state contributions to the public financial pot, their expectations were actually destined for failure.

The age that anyone retires (in most cases) is usually solely dependant upon financial considerations, unless it is forced upon you by ill health. Has my mortgage been paid off? Do I have enough money for day-to-day living expenses? Will I be able to afford holidays or the little luxuries I deserve now and then? These are all important considerations when we finally give up the daily grindstone.

  • Two-thirds of people under 30 and working full-time do not have a pension
  • The state pension age for men and women will rise to 66 in 2024, to 67 in 2034 and 68 in 2044
  • From 2012, workers without a workplace pension will automatically be enrolled into a workplace pension.

As predicted and expected by many, our expectations are to be dashed as the BBC report: “The Equality Commission has called for Over-65s to keep working”! The Department for Work and Pensions has said its long-term aim was to…”consign fixed retirement ages to the past”

You could be excused for thinking… How considerate of the government, they are actually giving us freedom of choice for once… Not a bit of it, as most people should know by now, the state simply can’t afford to keep paying out pensions at the current rate. A level that will actually increase year on year as our population gets older, and the source of pension contributions from our decreasing national workforce actually declines.

As usual the government dresses fact up with spin, in a vein attempt to suggest they are actually ‘doing us a favour’… Labour’s Ms Harman called the retirement age “arbitrary” and suggested a “massive policy change” was in the offing.  The commission wants ministers to scrap the retirement age, saying it is “out of date and discriminates against people who want to carry on working”. Whoopee do! The situation is actually the product of demographics, not some party political initiative (or mistake), and the spin is holey dependant upon which side of the house you sit.

The government may have “promised a review of the law” and the commission’s deputy chairman Lady Prosser may have said it made “good business sense in a recession to recruit and retain older talent”, however this is all about money, or the Nation’s pensions deficit. It has nothing to do with the Government suddenly looking after our needs and desires!

The commission says, “retirement law is outdated and employers should extend flexible working” that may also be the case? Recent surveys by the commission of the over-50s have shown; 62% of women and 59% of men said they wanted to continue working beyond pension age? I suspect the reasoning behind these results is more to do with ‘financial necessity’ as opposed to any ‘job satisfaction’.  It was also interesting to note that Baroness Prosser said: “Radical change is what older Britons are telling us needs to happen for them to stay in the workforce” but why would they want to?

Apparently, “Britain has experienced a skills exodus during the recession”… No shit? But has this not been going on for considerably longer? Those who can actually afford it have been leaving in droves for years. For better weather and probably more importantly to get better value and spending power from their retirement cash. Makes sense to me, why would anyone want to stop here and continue getting ripped off and abused by our anti social elements in their old age?

To suggest the Nation faces ‘a very real threat of not having enough workers’ is correct however, adding the comment… This is ‘exacerbated by the skills lost when older workers are forced to retire at 65’ is a little too convenient for the politicians. I don’t believe that many people actually want to continue working for longer than they have to!

New Pension Scheme provisions:

  • The new national workplace pension scheme backed by the government will be called the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest).
  • The overhaul of pensions will be phased in from 2012 to 2016.
  • Workers will be enrolled in a pension unless they opt out. This will apply to workers aged over 22 and earning more than £5,035 a year.
  • Under this scheme, an employee puts in a minimum of about 4% of their salary into the scheme.
  • Their employer will eventually contribute a minimum of 3%, although this will start at 1% in the three years from 2012, rising to 2% for another year and then up to 3%. There is also tax relief worth another 1%.

Any way, Mr Darling has announced the Government’s pledge to raise the state pension so perhaps we shouldn’t worry about the shortfall, at least not at the moment? No, I suggest you do worry! The Chancellor may have offered a rise of 2.5% in the ‘basic state pension’ from April 2010 however; this will not apply to some parts of the pension – which gives the Treasury a potential saving of £350m in 2010/11.  But don’t get excited or rely on any of that ‘saving’ being used to boost you financial stability in old age. The protection from job loses in the Civil Service is far more likely!

So the answer is: if in doubt get out or, if you can’t afford that, sit and suffer like the rest of the UK’s poor old age pensioners…

After all, we are a nation that values the young and says bollocks to the elderly! Or am I dropping to levels of extreme cynicism again?

Reference Source: BBC Special Report – Pensions Crisis

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