Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Britain - even less of a country for future old men

I have been surprised to find that, in future, Britain will be even less of a country for old men, than it is now. This comes from a pensions expert and former economic advisor to Downing Street called 'Ros Altmann'. Incidentally, isn't it strange that 'altmann' in German means 'old man' ? I found out about her in an article in the Observer Newspaper written by Ruth Sunderland.

In the article, entitled 'The Britons who can't afford to become old', Ruth paints a picture of a future Britain where men and women have to work longer and longer. She said that pension experts warn that Britain faces a retirement crisis so huge that it could eclipse the 'credit crunch'. If we continue on our present course, Britain will simply not be able to grow old and we have to accept that we will have to work longer, consume less and save more.

Ros writes : ' Altmann is not alone in issuing dire warnings about our collective failure to provide for the future : economists and actuaries are unanimous the U.K. is no country for old men - and it is even worse for old women.'

Some facts :

* The average private 'pension pot', will give a single man of 65 less than £2,000 a year - £38 a week.

* A 'pension pot' of £100,000 will, at current rates, yield an annual sum of £4,500 - £86 a week.

* At present 9,000,000 people rely on a state pension of £95.25 a week or a reduced rate of £57.05 for those, mostly women, who have not paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for the full rate, mainly because they took time off work to bring up the kids.

* The 'National Pensioners' Convention', has said that about 820 old people fall into poverty each day. Only in Latvia, Spain and Cyprus are you more likely to end up old and poor.

So, what is the way forward ?

The message is clear : Today's old men are better off than those coming up behind them, who will have to work longer.

I return to Ruth Sunderland, who painted this in her article describing a retirement party in 2039, where glasses were raised to the company's longest serving employee who, at 83 was leaving, after 60 years of service. In the room, the youngsters in their 50's and 60's knew that they had to work several decades before they could afford to retire.

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