Friday, 27 August 2010
One in ten workers have no plans to retire, while 42% of non-retired workers have no idea at what age they will be able to give up work, according to research from Baring Asset Management.
In comparison, when the firm conducted a similar survey in 2008, before the downturn, the majority of respondents were confident that they would retire and just one per cent did not know what age they would stop working at.
Marino Valensise, chief investment officer at Barings, said: "Our research shows that, for a large number of people, the ability to retire is now uncertain. A combination of increased longevity, a rise in the cost of living, and people not saving enough means that more people are being forced to work beyond the age of 65. They simply can't afford to stop working."
The study also found that 100,000 people who have yet to retire don't plan to stop working until they are at least 76 years old, while 2.3 million Brits will work until they are 65 or older.
Recent research by HSBC found that almost a third of over-50s and 41% of 60 to 70-year-olds are aiming to change career or shift to a new role.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
The United Nations Principles of Older Persons was adopted by the UN General Assembly (resolution 46/91) on 16 December 1991. Governments were encouraged to incorporate them into their national programmes whenever possible. Some highlights of the Principles are:
Older persons should:
* have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help;
* have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities;
* be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place;
* have access to appropriate educational and training programmes;
* be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities;
* be able to reside at home for as long as possible.
Older persons should:
* remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being, and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations;
* be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as
volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities;
* be able to form movements or associations of older persons.
Older persons should:
* benefit from daily and community care and protection in accordance with each society's
system of cultural values;
* have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness;
* have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care;
* be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment;
* be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their health care and the quality of their lives.
Older persons should:
* be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential;
* have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.
Older persons should:
* be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse;
* be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Ruth Marks said she heard of many instances where people were discriminated against because of age.
Examples included travel insurance premiums rising for those over 70.
An ICM poll for the commissioner suggested almost eight out of 10 people strongly support the introduction of rights for older people.
Continue reading the main story
* Coalition stands by Equality Act
* Widow's call for NHS age equality
Ms Marks said she wanted the government to ensure that older people are better protected from age discrimination, with a formal set of rights being brought in to help individuals and organisations identify how it can be identified and tackled.
She said that the survey of 1,500 people of all ages, commissioned by the commissioner, shows there was "overwhelming support" for the idea.
"Age discrimination often goes unrecognised in our society because it has, in many instances, become normal to discriminate unfairly against older people," she added.
Continue reading the main story
We're finding that there are specific areas, particularly in relation to financial services and in relation to health and social care where older people seem to be badly done by”
End Quote Ruth Marks Older people's commissioner for Wales
Alun Thomas, head of policy for the Older People's Commissioner, said around 2,000 people had contacted the commissioner's information line with concerns about discrimination.
"We're finding that there are specific areas, particularly in relation to financial services and in relation to health and social care where older people seem to be badly done by," he said.
"One example relates to the fact that insurance premiums suddenly take a certain hike once an individual reaches the age of 70.
"Another example would be where on health screening programmes, people are denied the right to health screening simply because of age and no other factor."
He said some rights were currently not being used effectively while others still had to be implemented.
He said he hoped the age equality aspects of the Equality Act 2010 would be brought in at the earliest opportunity.
The poll for the commissioner found 79% would strongly support the introduction of a set of rights. ICM interviewed a sample of 1,000 adults in Wales aged 65 and over by telephone from 18 - 25 March. A further 500 adults aged 18-64 were interviewed between 14 - 19 April 2010.
For more on this story: BBC News
Monday, 23 August 2010
People will be able to see exactly what public sector organisations are doing to tackle inequality under new plans to put taxpayers in control of holding public bodies to account, announced today by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone.
Launching a consultation on the new public sector Equality Duty, the Minister promised to make efforts to reduce inequality more transparent by increasing the amount of information public sector organisations must publish. This will mean they can be held accountable not by civil servants in Whitehall but by the people who actually fund and use their services.
The new approach marks an end to top down targets and box ticking bureaucracy.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said:
“Equality is central to delivering the fair and more efficient public services that support a fairer society. However, in the past equality has too often become a byword for box-ticking and bureaucracy, with public bodies focussing on red tape rather than results.
“The new Equality Duty will change this – instead of the Government imposing top-down targets and bureaucratic processes on organisations, we will require them to publish data on their equality results in their services and their workforce, empowering the public by giving them the information they need to hold organisations to account.
“Citizens will be able to see for themselves how a public body is performing on equality, because what really matters is delivering improved, more equal services, not following complicated and expensive procedures.
“To really make this work we need to know what you think, so please visit the Government Equalities Office website and have your say on the proposals.”
The public sector Equality Duty will replace three separate duties that require government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to take into account gender, race and disability equality both as employers and when making policy decisions and delivering services. The duty simplifies this requirement and also extends it to fully cover age, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
The consultation is the latest stage in the Government’s equalities programme, which so far has included enacting new rules to help tackle the gender pay gap and provide greater protection for the rights of disabled people, as well as work to improve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Friday, 20 August 2010
Book with cross-party support arguing that equality is better for all comes under attack from thinktanks
The authors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, argue that most of the important health and social problems of the rich world are more common in unequal societies. Using data from 23 rich countries and 50 US states, they found problems are anything from three to 10 times as common in more unequal societies. Again and again, the Scandinavian countries and Japan are at one end of the scale as the most equal, while the US, UK and Australia are at the other.
A key explanation is the psychological impact of inequality which, they say, causes stress and anxiety. For example, maths and literacy scores are lower in more unequal countries, affected by the issues of health, anxiety and depression and consequent drug and alcohol use. The way parents react to relative poverty also affects the way they treat their children, affecting education.
Violence rises in more unequal societies too. Following psychological studies that say men have an incentive to achieve as high a status as possible because their sexual competitiveness depends on it, the authors explain that men use violence when their status is threatened, and more so when there is little status to defend. "The association between inequality and violence is strong and consistent. The evolutionary importance of shame and humiliation provides a plausible explanation of why more unequal societies suffer more violence." Suicide is the only social ill that increases in more equal societies, they say.
Crucially, the authors argue that the evidence shows that all levels of society benefit from more equality, not just the poorest. On health, "at almost any level of income, it's better to live in a more equal place". Whether rich or poor, inequality causes stress, which causes biological reactions that put pressure on the body and increase illness.
Arguably the most profound conclusion is that economic growth among rich countries has finished its work because it is no longer increasing life expectancy and the only way to do that is to better share the wealth we have.
In its most simple terms, the book yearns for society to celebrate humankind's ability to co-operate and support one another. Are we fighters – which increases inequality? Or are we lovers? The authors say we don't have to see society, as the philosopher Hobbes saw it, as naturally in conflict – "every man against every man" – owing to rivalry for scarce resources.
Instead, "human beings have a unique potential to be each other's best source of co-operation, learning, love and assistance of every kind".
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
The latest falls in pension incomes will leave the average 65-year-old with just £7,666 a year, a fall of £259 over the month, the employee benefits company Aon Consultancy calculated. For the first time, that is half the £14,400 income that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recommends for an adequate standard of living for a pensioner.
Aon's analysis showed that the projected annual pension income for a 30-year-old dropped by £518 in the past four weeks, while that of a 60-year-old fell by £358. Projected annual income in retirement for someone aged 30 now stands at £19,344, while for someone aged 60 it has fallen to £10,466.
Aon's projections predict the retirement income of individuals of various ages who contribute 10 per cent of a £25,000 salary to a defined contribution pension. Richard Strachan, one of the firm's senior consultant, said: "Though we have seen some improvement to economic circumstances in the past six months, pension pots are in only marginally better shape than this time last year and due to the volatility in stock market activity, pension pots shrank once again during the last month."
He warned pension savers they faced a retirement in penury if they do not act to boost their retirement income. "Individual pension investors should keep a watchful eye on their pension pots to ensure their retirement plans are on track, and make suitable provision for their future," Mr Strachan added.
Meanwhile, the research company Defaqto warned that many people were approaching retirement with a number of different pension pots that might not be well invested.
"Instead of holding a number of smaller pension pots with different providers, consolidation into one pension plan may be a wise move," said David Abbis, the author of Defaqto's Guide to Self-Invested Personal Pensions. "Planning can then be made towards retirement, with sensible investing and monitoring hopefully resulting in better performance."
Monday, 16 August 2010
Download our newsletter here
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
The number of older workers trapped in long-term unemployment has hit a ten-year high after soaring by over 50 per cent in the last year alone, and planned changes to working age benefits could drive this figure even higher, warns Age UK.
Ahead of today’s publication of the latest employment figures, Age UK found that two in five 50-plus unemployed workers – a total of 170,000 people – have been out of work for over a year. The figure went up by half (52%) over the last year and almost a fifth (18.6%) over the last quarter – the highest percentage increase among all age groups – reaching the highest level since June 1997 when long-term unemployment among 50-plus workers was still high in the wake of the early-90s recession (Fig 1). The proportion of 50-plus in long-term unemployment has also risen sharply from 36.2 to 43.7 per cent over the last quarter, setting at its highest level since 2000 (Fig 2).
While male workers are still the worst affected – making up over three quarter of the 50-plus out of work for more than a year – women aged 50 and over have seen the number of long-term unemployed soar by a third over the last quarter, the highest percentage increase among all age groups.
With the number of older workers looking for a job set to rise by over three quarters of a million as a result of moving people off Incapacity Benefits, Age UK warns that the situation is bound to get worse unless older workers are offered tailored back-to-work support.2
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, said:
“This is the highest level of long-term unemployment among over 50s that we have seen in a decade and brings back the spectre of the last two recessions which left a devastating legacy of unemployment among people in later life.
“If hundreds of thousands of 50-plus workers remain stuck in long-term unemployment, the Government’s plans to ‘reinvigorate’ retirement and extend working lives will remain a hollow sound bite for many people.
“Before pushing people back into the recruitment arena or forcing them to work for longer, the Government must lay the foundations of a better job market for older people, with fairness and flexibility as cornerstones.”
For more from Age UK
Monday, 2 August 2010
With a £20bn black hole opening up in NHS budgets, a group of top performing trusts are seeking to profit from paying patients and use the money to fund public healthcare in Britain. The Guardian contacted the top 10 NHS trusts in terms of private income after the health secretary proposed new freedoms and discovered proposals to build new wings and wards to cater for private patients, set up hospitals abroad and entice medical tourists with airport-to-hospital bed services.
Critics say that because Lansley has abolished targets to reduce waiting times and is encouraging private care, patients will be back to a system where those with cash can jump ahead of those in need. The chief executive of one of the largest NHS hospitals, speaking anonymously, said chasing new markets might also see management spread "too thinly and lose clinical oversight". "Look at Great Ormond Street. They expanded up the road to Haringey Council and the Baby P tragedy happened on their watch," said the chief executive. The hospital in London provided paediatric staff to hospitals where Baby Peter was taken with fatal injuries that are now known to have been deliberately inflicted.
Labour says the policies give "a green light to let market forces run riot through the NHS". Andrew Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said there was "a dangerous combination of lifting the cap on treating private patients and scrapping national waiting time standards," adding: "With no limit on the amount hospitals can earn from seeing private patients, NHS patients can be made to wait. And as waits grow, people will be forced to consider paying for their care. It's the same old Tory NHS choice – wait longer or pay to go private."
But despite concerns that the NHS will wither as private medicine booms, Caroline Shaw, of Manchester's Christie hospital, Europe's largest cancer centre, said it would treble its private income from £10m to £30m within a decade after making a deal last month with the biggest private hospital group in the world, HCA. The deal will see the US-based HCA – which owns six private hospitals in London – pay £14m for a new private cancer centre at Christie. Shaw said staff voiced doubts until they realised half the income went back into the NHS. "We are full of top academics and researchers, so we had to explain we are not losing our values or morals. But we are getting new facilities and it's a 50:50 split of income. I am only half joking when I say we are the new Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to pay for the poor."
Others have gone shopping across the world for rich patients. The Royal Brompton and Harefield, the UK's largest cardio-respiratory centre, devotes an entire section on its website to marketing its "personalised, world-class service" offering patients a city guide and suggesting trips to the "high-end shopping facilities" of nearby Sloane Street and Harrods.
It has emerged that removing the limit on private patients, put in place by Labour, is central to Lansley's reforms. Last week the department of health put out a consultation paper calling for the lifting of the "arbitrary, ill-thought-through cap on [hospitals'] private income ... [to let] the NHS to take proper advantage, for the benefit of this country, of the power of its brand abroad".
Many have taken the health secretary at his word and are targeting the rich in Russia and the Middle East. Moorfields, the eye hospital, opened for business in Dubai and in three years has seen patient numbers jump five-fold to 9,700, and private income there tops £13m. It is now planning another hospital in oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
John Pelly, Moorfields's chief executive, said: "Without profits [from our commercial business] our ability to invest in our clinical services would be seriously constrained ... Particularly at a time when the financial constraints facing the NHS are going to be as severe as they are in the next three or four years, it's going to be really important to the NHS that we can take advantage of the abolishing of the cap."
Labour's cap had meant most hospitals were unable to generate more than 2% from private income. The exception is the Royal Marsden, a leading cancer hospital which, thanks to history, has a cap of 31% – and a private income of more than £40m a year. The Marsden, Lansley says, is the "model" in his new-look NHS.
The policy shift has led to smaller trusts thinking big. Papworth Hospital, home to the first successful heart transplant in the UK, will soon be submerged into the new 135-acre Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Some of its operations are so complex – with costs running into £25,000 for 10 hours of surgery – that the NHS can only afford to pay for 80 a year. "I think Andrew Lansley has really thrown down the gauntlet to us. In the next five years we aim to triple private income from 5% today to 15%. There are plans for a completely new private hospital on the campus," said Stephen Bridges, the hospital's chief executive, who has been advised by private healthcare company Spire.
However, academics caution that the rush to the market could lead not to NHS trusts profiting, but to them being undercut by ruthless foreign competitors or losing patients abroad. "What's to stop US healthcare companies coming over here to poach patients. Or GPs sending patients to India for cheap operations? Or English hospitals raiding Scotland for sick people?" said Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at the University of York. "It could be a real mess."
Some are concerned that despite the push the NHS has "missed the boat" when it comes to competing in global private healthcare. Jane Collins, chief executive of Great Ormond Street, which raises £23m from private patients and has just signed a contract in Kuwait to bring back seriously ill children back to Britain, warned: "In terms of UK plc, we are way behind the US, the Germans, Indian companies and Malaysian hospitals."
More on the Web: Guardian