It’s not that far back in our history, writes Tony Watts OBE, that later life was a time that many people feared because of the financial insecurity. Sadly, and shamefully, an estimated 1.7 million pensioners still live in poverty in the UK.
And the future doesn’t look any brighter: it’s plain that there are large numbers of people approaching retirement who are not saving enough for a comfortable income. Neither will a large swathe of the population have their property to fall back upon.
The cost of living crisis has thrown into sharp relief just how fragile many people’s retirement plans are, with many forced to return to work. The preoccupation of the Budget appeared to be persuading more of the wealthiest in society to carry on working, rather than devising ways in which the lowest paid can live above the bread line in retirement… or even afford to give up working.
Critically, there appears to be no overarching long-term strategy as to how we deal with this. Shouldn’t how this, and future generations, secure a comfortable retirement be the subject of a national debate and concerted action? This should be an issue cutting across party lines. Certainly it’s something the parties should include in their manifestos.
And it’s not just the State that holds the answer: it’s also about encouraging and enabling more people (even the lowest paid) to save during their working years. It’s about employers taking proactive action to enable staff to remain economically active for longer. And it’s about the nation investing effort as well as funding into better health, so that those who want or need to carry on working can do so.
The Age Action Alliance is about to launch its first collaborative project – on ways to tackle current levels of pensioner poverty. But longer term, the ambition is to look at how we ensure that tomorrow’s pensioners don’t suffer the same fate. If you would like to be part of our efforts, drop me a line.