Friday, 1 January 2010

280,000 Britons will be centenarians by 2050

When I give talks on the pluses of being 50+ I often refer to the rather staggering fact that when the Queen came to the throne in 1953 she sent out 200 telegrams to centenarians. In 2009 that figure was closer to 11,000. Research just published now suggests that more than 280,000 of us will reach that age by 2050. Even hope for me then!

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions predict that the number of 100-year-olds will double to 22,000 by 2020, double again by 2030 and hit 280,000 in 2050.

They will be living for more than a century thanks to improved diets, medical advances and a move away from manual labour.

While those currently under the age of 60 may be looking forward to a lengthy retirement, the figures raise fears over how the pubic purse will cope.

Meeting the cost of public sector workers' pensions is already imposing a punishing burden on the taxpayer.Separately, company pension schemes are being ripped up, leaving workers vulnerable to poverty in old age. The net effect is that millions of Britons will have to work well into their sixties and beyond if they are to maintain a decent standard of living.

But on a positive note, the older generation may also begin to wield more cultural and political power as they acquire proportionally more votes and financial muscle.

Work and Pensions Minister Lord McKenzie said: 'It is clear that in the coming years an older society offers great opportunities as well as challenges.

'Opportunities for those in retirement to continue working, learning and contributing to society, but challenges around how best to support this group. The biggest changes to pensions for a generation will mean that millions of people will be saving for their retirement.'

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