Saturday, September 01, 2012

United Kingdom: Illness Forces Many Older Workers To Stop Working Before Retirement Age

The United Kingdom's Trades Union Congress (TUC) has released an analysis of official labor market data showing that disability and poor health are preventing nearly half a million people approaching retirement from working, a figure that the TUC says will only increase as the state pension age starts to rise. Specifically, the TUC research finds that the employment rates for those approaching the current SPA are low, with just 54% of men aged 60-64 and 62% of women aged 56-60 in work.

As nearly two in five of those approaching retirement age are economically inactive, with long-term sickness and disability cited as the main reason for then not working, the TUC argues that the UK government is wrong to raise the state pension age without first addressing the health inequalities that are forcing many people out of work well before they're able to draw their pension. Instead, the government should focus on tackling age discrimination, extending access to flexible working and supporting those who are actively seeking work to re-enter the jobs market. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
While more people are working past their state pension age, often as the only way to get a decent retirement income, a far greater number of older people are unable to work due to ill-health or because they are trapped in long-term unemployment.

Accelerating the rise in the state pension age will simply push more people into poverty. We will end up with a new limbo zone for people in their mid-60s who are too young for a pension, but too old to have any realistic chance of a job. With a benefits system that gets meaner and tougher each year, even 66 year olds who have worked for decades before stopping work will be treated as work-shy scroungers.

By raising the state pension age and ignoring persistent health inequalities, the government risks overseeing a dramatic rise in pensioner poverty.
Source: Trades Union Congress News Release (August 30, 2012)

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