The coalition government can guarantee bonus years beyond its current term if it continues providing bonus years for Britain’s older generations, and gets big buy-in from the most powerful group of voters.
That’s the message from Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of over-50s lifestyle organisation Saga, who says that a year into government, the coalition has done a brilliant job of ditching the Default Retirement Age – but now she wants to see the same effort put into other proposals and policies affecting older people.
“There’s definitely an improvement for older people on some fronts, but the coalition’s young front-bench frontline team hasn’t quite got the required appreciation and vice-like grip on all the issues, and what the most powerful group of voters – older people, who are twice as likely to vote as younger generations – want and need,” said Dr Altmann.
“They want ‘bonus years’ – years beyond their 60s when they can carry on working part-time and earning. The legislation is there, as is the potential for legal enforcement of questionable employer tactics, but perhaps not quite the focus of support and creativity to ensure current or prospective employers embrace the concept of part-time work as enthusiastically as the born-again workforce.
“So, in my assessment of the government’s first year, my report would be littered with opposites: the government has delivered some brilliant reforms in its first year, but I’ve also scribbled ‘disaster’, ‘unpopular’, ‘too slow’ and ‘no help’ in the comment boxes too.
“The coalition promised it would 'reinvigorate pensions and retirement'. It certainly can’t be accused of pushing pensions into the long grass - it has been a struggle to keep up with the pace of new proposals. But, overall, it has done more to potentially reinvigorate retirement years than pension plans.
“Older people want to work longer – ideally part-time, whether for pleasure, keeping active, lifestyle, stimulation or money – and to enjoy those bonus years.
“I’m being realistic, not negative, when I say the real downers are around women’s state pension age - but that is part of a bigger picture of raising pension ages being a necessary policy because of ongoing economic issues. We do welcome public sector pension reforms, but there is a deep concern over the unions’ reactions to even these mild proposals. I’m also concerned about the impact of pensions being linked to CPI, and that rock-bottom interest rates and rising inflation may also cause older people problems.
“My final report comment? It would be ‘must try just a little harder – and respect your elders’,” said Dr Altmann.
For more information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529