Julian Knight: Pension timebomb? Call the forces of political correctness
Sunday 13 March 2011
You work longer and you pay more – you probably knew the drill before Lord Hutton released his report into public sector pensions last week.
But beyond the ire of the unions and the feeling that the Hutton report is a staging post to even lower retirement provision, there is an even bigger problem waiting to be tackled – how do we keep people in the workforce for longer?
Right now, public sector employers are plotting how they can "manage out" older staff, as part of the cuts programme. Either because they are seen as unproductive, difficult to train and prone to long-term sickness or simply because getting rid of someone in their late fifties or early sixties is seen as less damaging than getting rid of someone who has "their whole life in front of them".
Of late, we have had some bizarre commentaries, from, among others, the BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, that older workers are standing in the way of younger graduates and need to make way. The implication is that graduates and older workers are going for the same jobs, which isn't the case. Although the Office for National Statistics does say that the number of people in employment over the age of 65 has risen a touch, we are still in danger of reliving the mistakes of the 1980s and early 1990s recessions when generations of workers over the age of 50 were scrapped.
More widely, we have ageist employment practices. There have been countless "mystery shopping" exercises where CVs from older people were rejected in favour of the same CVs from candidates who did not give a date of birth. No wonder around half of all men over 60 and two-thirds of women – who often have to care for elderly relatives – are "economically inactive".
Most don't want to be on benefits or living off redundancy, property and savings. They want to work. But their way is blocked by ageist employers (many managers can't imagine managing someone 30 years their senior, and have a complete misconception of older people's sickness and adaptability to train) and, in many instances, lack of confidence. If society tells you that you are on the scrap heap then that's where most likely you will bed down.
Getting people to stay at work is the only way to square the pensions circle. To do this we need a fundamental change in society. In many respects, we need what the Daily Mail would no doubt call the '"forces of political correctness" to make ageist hiring and firing as unacceptable as prejudice on the basis of race, gender or sexuality. After all, is it any less hurtful to be unable to work because of the date on your birth certificate, than because of who you sleep with or your racial origin? Language itself has to change, from job adverts to conversations by the office water-cooler. We have to get serious about ageism if we are to have any chance of relieving the pensions crisis.
Did you make the most of low interest rates?
£8,798 is how much you could have knocked off a £150,000 mortgage debt if during the past two years of low interest rates you'd been systematically overpaying. All the average £150,000 borrower needs to have done – according to the number crunchers at broker firm London & Country – is to have kept the monthly repayment at the same level as in early 2009. This would also have had the twin benefits of pushing down the loan to-value ratio – negating some or all of the recent house price fall – making it easier to remortgage or even, if you have a flexible loan, allowing you to take a payment holiday should you need one in the future.
Now, with interest rates almost certain to rise soon and National Insurance going up next month, the golden period of higher disposable incomes for those with jobs and a mortgage tied to the base rate is drawing to a close. So how have you done and what is the size of your mortgage today?
- 1 This is what happens when you tattoo Charmander on yourself, drunk, and with no experience
- 2 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...
Day In a Page
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000