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Older people should expect to work longer and use property wealth to fund care costs, says think tank
Date of article: 15-May-12
Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor
Older people should expect to work longer and draw upon property wealth to help fund care costs, argues the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change.
In its report ‘Retirement in flux, Changing perceptions of retirement and later life’, the International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK)argues ‘older people should have a right to remain in their own home’.
The study said: ‘It is vital for the well-being of many older care recipients. But it is fair that older people draw upon their property wealth to help fund care costs.’
The report also said that older citizens have a responsibility to remain in the labour market, where possible, to enable skills retention and minimise the fiscal burdens on taxpayers.
But alongside this, older people should have a right to support from employers, and society more generally, to enable longer working lives.
Launching ‘Retirement in Flux’, Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive at ILC-UK said: "Increasing longevity has meant that the vast majority of people retiring today have developed expectations of at least twenty years in retirement.
"This expectation is simply not economically or socially sustainable. Our message for older people should be the same as the one we are giving to younger people. ‘Our economy and society need you’."
David Sinclair, assistant director of policy and communications at ILC-UK added: "We need to abandon the idea that people make contributions in their working life in return for support in retirement. Such an approach implies that retirement marks the point where older people’s contributions are no longer necessary or valuable. We need a new approach to old age and retirement, one which sees us all as citizens with rights and responsibilities."
In the think-piece, ILC-UK urges the Government to ensure that any future ageing strategy incorporates the need for national “retirement” strategy, which sets out what older people can expect from the state, but also what they should expect to contribute to society.
The report states that ‘for most of human history, most people have worked – either formally or informally – up to or close to the point of death, due simply to economic compulsion. But the introduction of state supported pensions just over 100 years ago resulted in the emergence of ‘retirement’ as a specific and substantive period of life. Between 1881 and 2008, the economic activity rates of UK men aged 65+ fell from 74 per cent to 10 per cent. Now, the majority of people can expect to live for at least twenty years in retirement.’
The International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK), published a poll alongside the study, which found just over two-fifths of people agree that because people are living longer and healthier it is right that people work longer before they can claim a state pension by age group. Those who agree that retirees play no part in the economic prosperity of the country are in the minority (17 per cent).
Just over two-fifths (42 per cent) of the population think that as a society, we overestimate the impact of an ageing society and almost two-fifths of adults think the UK’s ageing population is a threat to our economic competitiveness with other nations (38 per cent).
‘Retirement in flux, Changing perceptions of retirement and later life’ was produced with the support of Swiss Re.
Polling statistics were taken from the report, ‘Population Ageing: Pomp or Circumstance’ which was funded by an unconditional grant from Alliance Boots.
In March 2012, almost 1,000 adults were surveyed by GfK-NOP on three interrelated topics around healthy ageing and personal responsibility for health, older people and working longer, as well as general perceptions around an ageing society.
Image: Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive at ILC-UK