Increased Retirement Age in Britain
Political Party's Annual Conferences in England
Well the silly season of the year, when England's main political parties each have their weekly conferences, has rolled around again. Last week, commencing 28th September 2009, saw the Labour Party holding its annual conference. For them this year was all about trying to show support for ailing party leader, and the country's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Some attempt at unity was the order of the day and it was generally accepted that this conference would be the last one before the next general election. This is when the country as a whole will go to the polls, to decide which political party will in effect run the country for the next four years, or so.
So this week, commencing 5th October 2009, has seen the Conservative Party hold its conference. The Tories, as they are more commonly known, lead by David Cameron, hope to regain power in the next general election and so their conference has mainly involved the unveiling of their plans for Great Britain, should they are elected in 2010.
One would think that they may be promising changes which would be vote winners. After all in the past they have promised anything to get elected and simply reneged on their manifesto once in power. However, this conference has already seen them promising some reforms that may not be quite the vote winner one would have expected.
Well what do you think?
Are British Politicians breaking a legal contract by upping the retirement age?
Retirement in the UK
The Current Retirement age
Firstly let me say that this retirement age refers to the age that a person needs to be in order to draw a weekly state pension. Many people also have a private pension which may be payable earlier than this age or even later.
It has long been accepted that British people pay for their pensions by the National Insurance contributions which are deducted from their salaries each week.
At present women in the UK can retire at 60 and receive a State Pension. Men can do this at the age of 65. Each person's State Pension is paid, for over the years, by their own National Insurance contributions. These are made by the employee and the employer. I think the government must also contribute as, of course, some people will have a broken work record.
These NI, for short, contributions need to be made for a certain number of years to qualify for a state pension. It is possible to voluntary pay any shortfalls, when finances allow, but this must be done within a set time period.
If your NI contributions are not fully paid up you may only receive a percentage of the normal rate of state pension. Another option, at present, is to work after the retirement age, and defer receipt of your pension. This can increase your weekly amount of pension, but of course you need to be realistic. You could die in that last year or end up too ill to enjoy retirement. Much will depend upon what you do for a living and your general health. If you are a labourer, for example, on a building site, working until you are 66 may not be possible, physically.
The retirement changes are planned for 2016, assuming that the Tories are elected next year, and that they are still in power in 2016. They are proposing to raise the retirement age to 66 for men and 63 for women in 2016. However, plans were already underway to bring a woman's retirement age in to line with men's.
The way this is being done is to gradually increase the retirement age. This change is being phased in and presently this will affect all women born after 1950. I was born in 1952 and so I cannot retire until I am 62 in 2014. If you were born in 1953 it would be 2016 and aged 63. So you get the picture,
The news reported today has stated that men and women who are in their fifties now will be affected by the Tory proposals.
Labour Party retirement proposals.
The Labour Party already had planned to increase the retirement age, but not just yet, They plan to:-
Increase the state retirement age from 65 to 68 gradually between 2024 and 2046.
My thoughts and feelings on this matter
My Dad worked hard all his life in a hard, physical job. He was never unemployed, fought in World War Two and died when he was aged 55. My Mum died when she was aged 58. All they wanted or dreamed of was retirement. Unfortunately it was not to be for them.
I guess this is part of what has forged my opinion on work, retirement and the like.
Years ago we all thought that, in the future people would work less and retire much younger. The difference between the age when men and women retire in the UK is of course wrong in this day and age. However most people thought that the retirement age for men would come down to be in line with women's retirement age, not that both would increase.
The Tory plans are still a little vague and I have seen reports stating that women and men will not retire until they are 66 at least.
Whatever the truth is, increasing the retirement age is not a good option. Sure money is needed to pay off the country's debts and to try to balance the books.Those big bonus receiving bankers sure have a lot to answer for. I find it hard to believe that the pittance which is paid as a State Pension can make much difference to the country's debts though.
With ill health problems a possibility as our age increases some poor devils will be unable to work. Restrictions on unemployment and invalidity benefit will mean that more older people will be living in poverty unless they are able to stay in employment. I noted that Cameron does not plan to curb military pay rises. I suppose if unrest takes hold he will need a well paid army to keep the peace.
What ticks me off is that, for people my age, we have paid these contributions for years. We have paid them on the premise that we will retire at a particular age. In effect we have a government contract. For me it was going to be 60. For my Hubby it is to be 65. Hopefully his will still be 65 as, god willing, by 2016 he will be 66 anyway. My husband's work is physically demanding and it would be doubtful that he could continue working until he was 66. Finding a more suitable job is no easy option especially as you are approaching retirement. Thankfully we are both lucky enough to work part-time these days but again this is not always possible. For me, retirement should now be when I am 62, which I have learned to become accustomed to.
So in effect I, and millions like me, have entered into an agreement with the British Government. We have agreed to pay the ever increasing price of National Insurance Contributions so that we have a National Health Service and other benefits. These benefits have been whittled away over the years but we have never had a price reduction. We have had plenty of price rises though. These NI contributions though have been made to pay for our pensions.
I have been wondering today if this agreement has any legal standing. If the British people, as a whole, were to take our case to the Court Of Human Rights would we have a case? Gut feeling says that we should. However I know that we would not, I guess.
What my point is, is that any person already paying into this government retirement plan should not be affected. Young people who have yet to start work and begin paying into the State Pension should be the only ones affected. This is because they are entering into a new agreement. They have yet to receive the terms of their agreement. The rest of us already have our agreement and the rules should not be changed as easily as that.
I work with more than a few older people who have chosen to carry on working after retirement age. For them this is great. However not everyone is fit and well enough to do so, and as I have already said it depends on the job. It would have been far better to allow those willing to work longer to do so instead of forcing everyone to have to.
The age of the government members does not seem to matter as far as their working lives goes. Unlike us mere mortals they are allowed to work as long as they like. Being old and addled seems immaterial if you are merely running the country. However, they are not physically working hard. Some may do but they are hardly running along the streets dragging huge bins full of rubbish, and in all weathers as our garbage men do, Imagine doing that for a living when you are 66 plus?
Perhaps you are reading and thinking that these people should have progressed and had a career. Well it is not so easy for everyone and these awful jobs need to be done. We would be in a mess if no-one chose such labour intensive work and every person was a high flyer as far as their career went.
I will finish this rant now.
Whether the Tories will be elected or not, who knows. As they say a day is a long time in politics. Last week they were flavour of the month. This week it could be a different story.
Their proposal to increase the retirement age will not be an electorate pleaser, in general. However many of those that will be most displeased will be those who rarely vote, The people who will benefit will be those who tend to be traditional Tory voters and do not give a damn about the ordinary man on the street.
So, what do you think is a good age to retire?
What age would you like to retire?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Ethel Smith