Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Promoting intergenerational volunteering

Twelve projects across England have been awarded grants as part of a £5.5 million cross-Government scheme to promote intergenerational volunteering and encourage meaningful interaction between young and old generations.

The ‘Generations Together’ campaign, aims to break down barriers between young people and older people and help them engage with each other on equal terms through mutually beneficial voluntary projects. The projects will bring together young people and other members of the community to build trust and understanding, develop community solutions to issues which concern both groups, promote health and wellbeing and resolve tensions by helping to address negative perceptions of young and older people alike. The UK population now has more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 16. As England’s social demographic changes, it is increasingly important that young and older people are encouraged to interact, and spend more time learning from each other’s experiences and skills. Funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, the scheme which is also supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government invited bids from all English local authorities involving third sector organisations. The 12 winning bids will establish volunteer projects which build positive connections across local communities between young and old people. Successful initiatives range from plans to use Portsmouth’s nautical and maritime heritage to bring together older and young people in a series of programmes and events to programmes addressing widening gaps in tolerance between young and older people in Wakefield. The winning 12 projects are:

Ealing (London)
Gateshead (North East)
Hammersmith and Fulham (London)
Luton (East of England)
Northamptonshire (East Midlands)
Manchester (North West)
Plymouth (South West)
Portsmouth (South East)
Reading (South East)
Somerset (South West)
Wakefield (Yorkshire and Humber)
Worcestershire (West Midlands)

Iin many countries traditionally there have been strong links between the oldest and youngest generations. Grandparents are playing a key role in upbringing again as we have frequently reported so it is good to see initiatives like this.

Busting myths about older people:

From the Later Life Newsletter No 9 Supporting Communication between DWP and Government Office”


“Over 65’s are dependent, frail and disengaged”


· Only 15% of people over 65 receive social care

· Only 3% of people over 64, 18% of people over 80, and 28% of people over 90 live in residential care

· Only 20% of people over 80 suffer from some form of dementia

· 75% of people aged over 65 voted in the 2005 General Election

More help for older workers to find jobs?

Yvette Cooper, Work & Pensions Secretary announced yesterday at the Labour Party Conference that the G'ments Local Employment Partnership (LEP) schemes would be used to create more jobs for older people.

She announced that the government would treble the number of jobs it aimed to create through LEPs - from 250,000 to 750,000 - by the end of 2010.

The new LEP opportunities should be used to offer the over-50s personalised support from Jobcentre advisors to help them get back into the workplace.

There are now 370,000 people aged over-50 who are out of work - an increase of 50% over the past 12-months.

Tom Wright, chief executive of Age UK - formed in April after Age Concern and Help the Aged merged - warned that the support offered to older people through Jobcentre Plus 'routinely fails' the over-50s.

He said: "Some of the support currently offered through Jobcentre Plus routinely fails [the over-50s]. Many of those we spoke to said advisors make little effort to find them jobs to match their skills and experiences.

"We are calling for the government to do much more to improve the support offered by the Jobcentre Plus and to provide financial incentives to employers to take on people aged over-50, particularly those who have been out of work for six months."

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Lib Dems attack the high court ruling

Greg Mulholland, as it happens my local MP in Leeds North West, is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for older people and he has just sent me his official statement on the high court ruling on the DRA.

“I am very disappointed that the High Court did not seize this opportunity to abolish the mandatory retirement age.

“It seems extraordinary that just because somebody reaches the age of 65 their employer is able to say that they are no longer fit for purpose.

“The Judge recognised that there is now a compelling case for changes to retirement law and I am hopeful that there will be a more progressive review in the future."

And the g'ments response is .............

Age Concern reveals background behind high court decision on DRA

Age Concern plans to take the battle to Parliament as High Court upholds Default Retirement Age.

Ruling on the future of forced retirement ages‚ a high court judge actually revealed that the Government had only avoided defeat because ministers had already caved in to pressure for a review in 2010. Mr Justice Blake said: ‘I cannot presently see how 65 could remain as a DRA after the review’.

The fate of millions of people who want or need to work beyond the age of 65 now lies directly in the hands of MPs and peers‚ says Age Concern and Help the Aged.

Andrew Lockley‚ Head of Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team‚ which represented Age Concern and Help the Aged‚ said:

“The judge’s criticism of the Government’s approach to the default retirement age will be seen as justifying the strenuous efforts made by Age Concern and Help the Aged in this litigation. Had the Government not pre-empted this and announced a review while this case was ongoing‚ then the ruling would have gone against it.

“The judge has effectively given the Government breathing space to go away and change the rules. But his comments that he cannot see how the DRA can stay at 65 will give renewed hope to thousands of workers approaching that age. Essentially‚ the Government has been told to think again.”

Sunday, 27 September 2009

80 is the new 60!

The Academy of Medical Sciences has just published a report on ageing. It reveals that far from having lonely, decrepit existences, assailed by memory loss and physical infirmity, vast numbers of the elderly in the UK are living long, healthy, productive lives.

The stereotypical image of a nation in which rising numbers of pensioners are being kept alive by modern medicine – but are crippled by arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's, and live huddled and defenceless in old people's homes – is simply not true. "Healthy life expectancy is increasing at least as quickly as life expectancy," states the report.

Large numbers of elderly people are living healthy, happy and productive lives. "No one wants to live an extra 10 years if they have to spend them in a nursing home," said the head of the working group, Professor Linda Partridge, of University College London. "But that is not what is happening at present. People are living longer. At the same time, they also are living healthier, more productive lives."

This point is backed by a surprising body of statistics, she added. For example, it is known that the people of Britain are getting older and older, a trend which suggests a far higher proportion of the general population should now be living in old people's homes today than in the past. "But this is not the case," added Partridge. "The proportion is just the same as it was several decades ago." In other words, although there are more 80-year-olds today, the percentage affected by disability – requiring them to live in homes – is far lower than it was last century.

In fact, this improvement in disability has been surprisingly emphatic, according to gerontologist Professor Kay-Tee Khaw of Cambridge University, a member of the working group. "If you compare national surveys carried out between 1970 and 1990, you see the number of 85-year-olds who are disabled halved between 1971 and 1990."

In fact, medical interventions and lifestyle changes have both played crucial roles in bringing healthy old age to so many. Drugs that counter high blood pressure and cardiac complaints have produced startling reductions in deaths from heart disease, for example. Since the 1990s cardiac mortalities have dropped by 40% as a result.

At the same time, lifestyle changes are also making an impact: those who stop drinking excessively or smoking or who take exercise and eat lots of fruit and vegetables not only live longer but have less chance of suffering physical or mental disability in later life, added Khaw. "The association is clear."

This connection between factors such as diet and loss of mental function may seem unlikely but it is real, added Tallis. "Alzheimer's has a speedier, more pronounced progress on those who also suffer from cerebral vascular problems - and such conditions are associated with unhealthy lifestyles."

The result is emphatic, said Partridge. "Today's 60-year-olds have the lifestyles that 40-year-olds had a century ago. More importantly, we are now shaping up to a future in which 80-year-olds will live as 60-year-olds do today."

We emphasise this in our book so it is great to see up to date research making the same points.

Starting a business: What the over-50s need to know?

This is the title of an article by Patrick Collinson in the Guardian on Saturday for which I was interviewed but I am suggesting that you read it not just because of personal vanity(!) but because the case studies that Patrick quotes are uplifting and examples of what we can do for ourselves even if traditional jobs are thinner on the ground. And who wants old style 9-5 traditional jobs any more anyway!

Friday, 25 September 2009

UK retirement age challenge fails

Unbelievable but sadly only too believable. The High Court has ruled that it is legal for UK employers to force workers to retire at the age of 65.

In the UK, a worker can see their employment end at the age of 65 without any redundancy payment - even if they do not want to retire.

The case had been brought by Age Concern and Help the Aged which argued that the compulsory retirement age goes against EU regulations.

But their challenge, heard in July, has now been thrown out by the court. As usual we have judges making crucial social decisions with no account given to social implications. Maybe we should throw them out at 65 instead of being able to continue until at least 70 and then most of them can continue to do a range of legal work up until 75. More and more institutions are lining up to ditch this policy. Even this G'ment has brought forward a review of this to 2010 - when of course they may not be in power. In the meantime thousands of people will have their livelihood stopped at exactly the same time as the G'ment are trying to encourage older people to say in employment longer. Does joined up thinking mean anything to these people! Of course MP's also are not thrown out at 65.....

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Fighting against 'still'

I have just come across a lovely quotation from the great economist and social commentator, JK Galbraith at the age of 87. He talks about the 'still syndrome', which is when older people are taunted with questions such as, 'are you still working?', or 'Are you still exercising then?' and many more examples that I am sure that you have heard. His response to these questions was, ' I see that you are still rather immature'. Right on!!

Don't forget your new ISA allowance.

The ISA limit is increasing from £7,200 to £10,200 for over-50s from 6 October.

Half of the new limit, £5,100, can be saved in a cash ISA, and half can be invested in a stocks and shares ISA.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Mum and Dad on gap year

1 in 5 parents aged over 50 have gate crashed their children on a gap year. For the over 65's that rises to 48%! The research was conducted by the Post Office after a rise in travel insurance requests for single trip long haul holidays from its older customers. The demand has been so great that the Post Office has introduced a special policy for year round multi trip cover for the over 65's. Is there no way that our kids can get away from us?

The pluses of employing older workers

New research shows older workers bring distinct benefits to the workplace and that UK employers are missing a trick by not exploiting latent talent within their ranks.

The research among 15,000 UK workers reveals that mature workers are more likely to be flexible and easier to manage than their younger counterparts. An in-depth analysis of working styles showed that older workers are generally more willing to take on new tasks and accept more varied roles than their younger counterparts. Other positives included older workers being happier to work on their own and being more likely to volunteer to take a leading role, without the need for much guidance.

Workers over 50 were generally found to have a high level of social confidence and a greater preference to build successful and supportive working relationships with colleagues, clients and suppliers. Those in their 50s and 60s were found to be less achievement-orientated than their younger colleagues.

Steve O’Dell, chief executive of Talent Q, the company which conducted the survey, said:“ Our study defies the common stereotype of older workers who are unwilling to accommodate change and may therefore be unresponsive to new challenges presented in the workplace.

“Talent Q found that those of more advanced years are less preoccupied about climbing the career ladder and that they tend to be more happy, fulfilled and confident. As a result, they are glad to take on new work or projects, and aren’t unduly phased by lots of changes. They tend to plough on regardless – a fact that employers are quickly discovering can be a real benefit to their business.”

Monday, 14 September 2009

Track down old pensions

Do you have a pension that you have forgotten about? Sounds strange but sometimes people have had relatively short term jobs where they have contributed to a pension scheme and then forgotten about it. There is a free service operated by the Department for Work and Pensions, which is expert at tracking down old pensions, thanks to its extensive database of occupational pension providers. It also tracks down personal pension providers, too. Pension Tracing Service.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Still giving after all these years

A new report from RIAS shows that the over 50's are still making the largest contribution to the national economy. 21m people over the age of 50 had a net fiscal contribution of £6.5 billion to the UK public finances in 2008.

Spenders, not savers
And far from being thrifty at 50, the older generation spends £179 a week. They out-spent the younger generation in 2008 by almost 13% each week, equivalent to £21, with the majority of their money spent on food, drink, eating out, entertainment and hobbies.

Janet Connor, Managing Director at RIAS, comments: “The public stereotype has long been that the over 50s are a drain on society with an expected life path, taking more out of the public purse than they put in. In reality, the complete opposite is true. People over 50 make a positive contribution financially, and feel much more satisfied with their lives, because they feel more relaxed and have more time to do the things they want.”

“Our latest research report shows that the over 50s should be celebrated for their outlook, life experience and the knowledge they can pass on to other generations. From their entrepreneurial spirit, through to their record-breaking achievements, today’s over 50s are diverse, complex and aspirational – one size really doesn’t fit all!”

One fascinating statistic from the report states that 147,000 have broken a record, either a Guinness, World or UK record, since they turned 50.


No - not for breakfast! Just the latest mnemonic now being applied to certain members of our age group - Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings. The latest research reported in the Observer shows that one in four of people of retirement age cannot afford to leave their jobs and will have to continue working indefinitely.

"Falling house prices, shrinking pension pots and the need to support financially dependent children have created a perfect storm for retirement plans," said Simon Lough, chief executive of Heartwood Wealth Management, which commissioned the independent research of almost 2,000 people aged 55 and over.

The Office of National Statistics, found that most "kippers" are young men. Almost a third of men aged between 20 and 34 live with their parents, compared with less than a fifth of women.

The trend for young people returning home has emerged over the past eight years and in that period the number has risen by 300,000 to include two million young men.

The survey shows that for semi-retired people over 65, the situation is no better than for those approaching retirement: 49% said financial pressures were forcing them to delay full retirement. More than a third of those said they wanted to achieve their pension plan target before retiring fully and almost two-thirds said they would have to continue working until they were made to stop. Just over 6% anticipated having to work for another 10 years.

Friday, 11 September 2009

We are all of a Twitter

Twice as many 50-64-year-olds than 18-24-year-olds in the UK use Twitter, according to research from Nielsen Online.

Audience figures showed 50-64-year-old users account for 22% of the entire Twitter audience, compared with just 11% of 18-24-year-olds.

The biggest share of the audience is 35-49-year-olds (33%), followed by 50-64-year-olds (22%) and 25-34-year-olds (22%). A year ago the share of 25-34-year-olds using the site was 5% higher.

The figures also revealed the number of users in the under-18s market and over-65s each accounts for 6% of the overall audience.

The age group that grew fastest in unique visits over the past year was 50-64 year-olds, up by 1,926%. arial;">The biggest share of the audience is 35-49-year-olds (33%), followed by 50-64-year-olds (22%) and 25-34-year-olds (22%). A year ago the share of 25-34-year-olds using the site was 5% higher.

The figures also revealed the number of users in the under-18s market and over-65s each accounts for 6% of the overall audience.

The age group that grew fastest in unique visits over the past year was 50-64 year-olds, up by 1,926%.

The Nielsen Online UK figures contrast with US research by ComScore released last week that found the audience on the site had skewed younger as it has grown in the past year.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Just how many credit cards do we need!

Some forty nine per cent of over 50s admitted to using more than one credit card, according to research conducted by Saga, with seven per cent saying they carry five or more credit cards in their wallet.

Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of people aged 50 do not use a credit card, compared to over a third (34 per cent) of under 50s.

Of those who said they held more than one credit card, a third said they utilised all their plastic in the same way, with one five saying they used their cards to give them some breathing space when they need extra credit.

The same number said their credit cards were using for big ticket purchases.

While use of multiple credit cards by over 50s is up compared with the rest of the population, it would seem that they are more likely to make their repayments on time – nearly three quarters (73 per cent) claim to have never missed a payment deadline.

By contrast, 47 per cent of under 50s admit to having missed a credit card payment at some point, with eight per cent of under 35s saying they regularly do so.

Furthermore, over a third of people mistakenly believe that having multiple credit cards cannot have any impact on credit scores, while a quarter believe it can actually improve their rating.

CMI demands an end to default retirement age.

We welcome to the growing club of organisations and political parties demanding an end to the default retirement age (DRA) of 65 the CMI Chartered Management Institute.

"We would like to see the abolition of the DRA, to enable businesses to retain their talent. Managers know that the UK has an ageing population, which means increasing numbers are able to work productively into their later years.

Clearly, the recession has had a significant impact on the labour market, but there are still skills shortages in some key areas, including management. Older employees may have these valuable skills and experience, so keeping them in work longer is a powerful driver for managers to support performance.

Joint research by the CMI and Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in 2005, confirms that employer’s interest in keeping older employees is driven by a concern to retain valuable skills and talent:

* 93pc of those surveyed agree updating skills is worthwhile

* there is no cost advantage from shedding older, more experienced workers

* flexible working is a much better answer but is not as prevalent as the CMI would like

One way of potentially cutting the necessary costs, but retaining skills within the organisation could be in the form of flexible working.

These arrangements are key to keeping skills and implementing better solutions around retirement. CMI research shows that 68pc of managers anticipate working part-time towards the end of their career. Also 24pc said that this would be the most important factor in their decision-making on when to retire.

Unfortunately, these arrangements appear to be available only to a minority, with only 34pc offering part-time working to older employees. So, organisations are missing out on their chance to retain their talent and cut costs at the same time.

Ultimately, older employees with the right skills and experience, possibly gained from the last recession in 1991 are of great benefit to UK business. They play a valuable role in coaching and mentoring younger employees. Older employees are keen to give something back, which employers are looking to develop the talent of Generation Y, the younger people who are arguably the future of our companies. So, it is clear that the benefits of having older employees with a wealth of skills and experience far outweigh any negatives, which adds further weight to the argument for the eradication of the DRA."

It really is getting more and more frustrating that this G'ment, although drawing forward the decision about this to 2010, is still prevaricating on this issue. I think the CBI has friends in high places as they are one of the few bodies still advocating it.

Older Americans staying put in jobs longer

It is always good to keep an eye on what is happening with employment in the US.

The study by the Pew Research Center, an independent research group, highlights a rapidly graying labour market due to longer life spans, an aging baby boomer population and a souring economy that has made it harder to retire.

Pew's survey and analysis of government data, being released today, found the share of Americans ages 55 and older who have or were seeking a job rose to 40 percent this year, the highest level since 1961. In contrast, people 16 to 24 who were active in the labor market decreased to 57 percent, down from 66 percent in 2000.

Asked to identify why they're working, 54 percent of older workers responded that it was mostly because they wanted to, citing a desire while they were still feeling healthy to be productive, interact with other people or to "give myself something to do." A sizable number of them — nearly 4 in 10 — also acknowledged staying put at work partly because of the recession.