Why we should celebrate the abolition of the default retirement age
We recently commissioned research among the 50-70 year olds which established the majority of people in the UK in or nearing retirement, are afraid they will not have enough money to continue funding their existing lifestyle. Almost two-thirds of the same age group worry, on a monthly basis or even more frequently, about falling short. This doesn’t need to be the case as long as rules are relaxed and people aren’t ‘forced’ into leaving their job before they wish or can afford to.
Retirement should be about taking it easy and enjoying life. If people need to work longer in order to achieve this, they should be allowed to do so. Today, the average 65-year-old is much fitter and healthier than those a decade ago and employers recognise the contribution they continue to make to those they work for.
The move to abolish the default retirement age (DRA) is a step in the right direction and it is pleasing to see a review of historical rules being applied to modern day life from our government.
It isn’t just our research that highlights the worry and fear felt in retirement. A recent independent report into UK pensions also found that almost three-quarters of private sector workers will be unable to ‘adequately exist’ when they retire, partially due to a lack of savings. All of these figures surely made for uncomfortable reading to those in power and pressure to change draconian rules will help those willing and able to work in retirement.
Some have questioned whether the abolition of the DRA will take jobs away from younger workers. While many argue this side, we believe the over 65s have a right to continue doing their job, as long as they are capable of doing so. As pensions, savings and inflation continue to hit the pockets of those in later life, this continued wage will be a lifeline for thousands. More importantly it could ensure fewer people are left in poverty and ultimately turning to an already struggling state for support.
Our study's insight into the despair felt by those nearing or in retirement is evident from the most frequent word that springs to mind when 50- to 70-year-olds think about their retirement years – ‘worry’. Over half of those polled (56 per cent) think of negative words such as ‘poverty’ or ‘fear’, while only a third (34 per cent) thinks of positive words.
This should not be the case. If we really want to change the lives of people over 65 in the UK, it means facing up to the fact that they need – and should be allowed to – work to secure their future financial income. Let’s put their life in their hands, so that they can enjoy it all the more.
By Richard Collinson, co-founder of RetireEasy