March 28, 2017
The number of British people working past 70 years old has increased markedly over the past four years. Poor pensions, personal choice, greater life expectancy and changes to pension laws have all been highlighted as factors behind the increase in the latest report on demographic trends from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The largest increase was seen amongst women, with the proportion of women working into their seventies doubling from 5.6 percent in 2012 to 11.3 percent last year. Around 150,000 women over seventy are now thought to be working. Meanwhile, the number of men working past the official state pension age has also increased, but at a slower rate, from 10 percent in 2012 to 15.5 percent last year.
One of the specific reasons given for the surge in the numbers of women working longer is that many missed out on the new state pension, which started in April 2016. Thousands of women who planned to benefit from an earlier retirement age had their financial plans changes with the new rules that meant they must work until they are older. By October 2020, British men and women will have the same state pension age of 66 years old.
The government is urging employers to keep the over 55s in the workforce and not to discriminate against them when jobs become available. However, many employers are finding they must adjust working practices to account for health and mobility issues with older staff.
Nathan Long, senior pension analyst at investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “This jump in those leaving work over 70 may simply be through individual choice. Workers should be encouraged to work as late in life as they are able and feel is desirable. However, it is also a reflection of the increasing strain on the pension system. The best days of well-funded early retirement are behind us. The risk to employers is of a workforce trapped in jobs they don’t want to do, which will inevitably impact on productivity.
“The risk to employers is of a workforce trapped in jobs they don’t want to do, which will inevitably impact on productivity. The government has already set out their vision for fulfilling working lives, but its success requires employers to embrace flexible working, re-education of employees and the transfer of a lifetime of knowledge.”