Julian Knight: Our ageing population must be less ageist

We've known for several years that we will have to wait longer for our state pension, but the goalposts were moved once again last week with the confirmation that the Government wants first men and later women to work till 66 from 2016.

But what work are people going to do while they wait for the least generous state pension in the developed world? Finding a job beyond 50 or even younger in some professions (such as media) is nearly impossible as employers routinely discount older candidates because they are supposedly more likely to be off ill and are difficult to train. This is nonsense; in my experience, younger workers' sick records are often far worse, and to suggest older workers can't be trained is pure prejudice.

Yet the UK workplace is steeped in ageism: it can be found in job adverts specifying "energetic", "fresh" or just plain discriminatory "young" applicants only. When it comes time to get rid of staff, often older members are the first out of the door. Some retailers recruit older people and make a lot of PR noise out of it, but do you fancy spending the back end of your career as an Asda greeter?

For this to work, we need a fundamental shift in how society views age. To a certain extent this will happen naturally. We are an ageing population so you'd hope that we would wake up to the fact that by being ageist at work we're hurting ourselves. But I don't have huge faith in people to learn this lesson fast. We do have age discrimination laws but they are limited to the under-65s, and I feel they don't genuinely stigmatise in the same way as sex and race laws do. It's still the case that although the pension age is 65, the average age a man stops working in the UK is about 62.

If the Tories expect us to wait even longer for our pension – beyond 70 – then they should get interventionist (which they won't) over the subject of age discrimination and more flexible over retirement saving (which I expect they will). They have to close the gap between when people really finish work and the state pension age or, at worst, keep it to about three years. The alternative is allowing hundreds of thousands more men and women to eke out the best part of a decade on benefits before eventually getting their hands on a state pension.

Read my lips: more taxes

It's an old joke, but how can you tell a politician is lying? Answer: their lips move. Throughout the election we had Labour with its fictitious public spending efficiency measures and now feigned horror at a VAT rise it certainly was planning itself. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems and Tories pretend that now they've seen the books then the rise was inevitable, although they too planned it all along.

If you're tempted to think you got away lightly, think again. Who is to say that the downgraded economic forecasts aren't still overly optimistic? Only a percentage point out and more taxes will have to go up.

Lloyds' sleight of hand

If I didn't know better, I'd think that we were seeing a gradual unwinding of the punitive unauthorised bank charges regime when Lloyds announced last week that from December (why the wait?) it will cut its fees for bouncing cheques and direct debits. Most of the big players have reduced their charges with some notable exceptions (Clydesdale bank still levies a rip-off 30 per cent interest on its unauthorised borrowings and a £35 "unpaid item" fee), but these fees are still a massive money-spinner for the banks. All that is happening is that the banks are doing the bare minimum to assuage some of their critics over charges. In Lloyds' case it has even decided to fund its generosity by reducing the interest rate it pays some of its current account holders and an introducing a £5 usage fee on authorised overdrafts – this from a bank you and I practically own. Half-hearted and sleight of hand is the only conclusion.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

    Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible