i Editor's Letter: Why put more pressure on those who are retired?


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The Independent Online


Retirement is not for the faint-hearted. It's the end of old routines: the reassurance of a workplace to go to every day; the work that gives an extra layer of meaning to life. Suddenly, the clock is not the boss of you, and purpose can prove elusive.

For most, certainly those not on gold-plated public sector pensions, retirement means ever-diminishing finances. Yes, I know all that stuff about the grey pound, which clearly applies to a sizeable minority. However, for most, money will be a worry – starkly so for those wholly dependent on a state pension.

For others, retirement finances mean balancing the value of assets and savings with the risk to benefits they represent. All this before one factors in the shadow hanging over all our futures: we are living so long that all previous bets are off. The new norm is uncertainty: how long will we live? Will we get ill? If we do fall ill, will personal and medical care enable us to survive? For how long? At what financial cost?

And now? The big, bold idea is to have young people ask the bank of mum, dad and grandparents to raid their pensions to fund deposits on first homes! Really? That's the best we can do? Instead of addressing the source problems of an over-inflated housing market and the refusal of banks to lend, we want to heap greater pressure on our old?

Of course, in so many families this help is already given, but it is not a place for the state to be meddling. It should look elsewhere, and focus on doing something about the difficulties of first-timers obtaining mortgages – and even then, affording homes.