Thursday, 2 February 2017

Fuller working lives – thank you, but I’ve already had one

"Fuller working lives" banner.

Today the government has announced a new strategy under the title Fuller Working Lives for getting older people back into the workplace. “Calling on employers to boost the number of older workers and ensure they are not writing people off once they reach a certain age,” they say. That’s nice of them because everyone my age knows what it’s like to get knocked back when looking for work.

So what is the government actually  going to do to help us?

They say they are taking four main actions:
  • publishing a wide range of evidence on the benefits of working longer
  • extra help for people who may need more support getting into and staying in work, eg people with long-term health conditions and disabilities
  • creating more apprenticeships
  • more support at jobcentres for older workers.
On the first one, the benefit for them is they don’t have to pay our pensions til later. The benefit for us is we don’t starve. The rest isn’t even worth commenting on.

They talk about “the decision to work longer” as if we had a choice. I decide to work longer because they won’t give me a pension til I’m 66.  It’s not a decision, it’s a necessity. Someone else doesn’t work longer because an employer has sent them to the scrapheap. That’s not their decision either.

What are they doing to stop prejudice against older people? Because that’s the real problem.

Business in the Community are being a bit more practical and putting the business case for keeping older people in jobs (we’re running out of younger ones. And probably immigrants, although they didn’t say that.) But why don’t they put their money where their mouth is? The Age at Work Director at Business in the Community (according to LinkedIn) started university 20 years after I finished. Couldn’t they give the job to someone who was actually over 50?

At any rate, It’s clear what the agenda really is. They talk about work giving people fulfilling lives but what they really want is for everyone to stay in work for longer. If you look at the government publication it says “Given the ageing workforce and scale of early exit from the labour market, there are likely to be significant challenges for the future UK economy in areas such as financing of state pension provision.”

BITC are even blunter: “We should be concerned, though, that over half of men and women are not in work the year before state pension age.  That is a recipe for poverty in old age, and a benefits bill we cannot afford.”

Well actually I don’t want to work til I drop. I would retire tomorrow if I had the chance. I’m tired. And I’m pissed off that in a year’s time I will be at what used to be retirement age for women but I can’t now get my state pension for another six years after that. 

I've worked for nearly 40 years. That's a full enough working life, thanks. Now give me a rest. And give me back my bloody pension.

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