‘There’s nothing to stop me working’

Raymond Irving

“There’s nothing to stop me working,” says Raymond Irving, a forklift truck driver at a recycling plant.

At 69, he is the oldest person at his firm, but he has no plans to stop despite already drawing his pension.

Mr Irving is part of a growing trend, a sharp rise in the numbers of older workers continuing past retirement age.

The number of over 70s still working has more than doubled in a decade to nearly half a million, according to analysis of official data.

The figures mean that almost one in 12 people in their 70s are working, compared with one in 22 a decade ago, says jobs site Restless, which targets the over 50s and carried out the research.

Restless founder Stuart Lewis said working on past retirement age was growing in popularity for both men and women.

“Work patterns are changing – gone are the days of working hard five days a week for four and a half decades before suddenly stopping – and retiring ‘cold turkey'”.

In the UK, men and women currently qualify for their state pensions at 65, with plans for the age to increase to 66 by October 2020 and 67 by 2028.

‘I want to keep working’

Mr Irving works full time, but he wants to cut down his hours, something which is not possible in his current role. He plans to look for a part-time role towards the end of the year, but can’t see himself stopping altogether.

“There are only so many holidays you can go on, or decorating or gardening. What are you going to do sit down and watch TV in the day?

“I want to keep working. I like meeting people and I enjoy what I do,” he says.

He says his job keeps him fit, but also means he can afford a good lifestyle such as going on Caribbean cruises.

But it’s not always easy for workers to carry on working, even when they want to.

When will I get my pension?

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State pension calculator – check your age and entitlement

Catherine Foot, director of evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better charity, says many employers are failing to offer enough support.

“People routinely face age discrimination or lack of opportunities for things like flexible working and retraining opportunities. This simply can’t go on. British business can’t afford to waste the skills and experiences that older workers bring,” she told the BBC.

Many experts say increasing longevity means firms need to do more to encourage older workers to continue to work.

A girl born in 1951 had a life expectancy of 82 years. A girl born today can expect to reach the age of 93.

Over the same period, boys’ life expectancy has increased from 77 years to 90.

Skill shortage solution?

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, suggests employing older workers could also help firms struggling to find workers with the right skills.

“With fewer younger people starting work to replace those set to retire in future years, and uncertainty over Brexit and worsening skills and labour shortages, it’s vital that employers adopt age-friendly practices like flexible working”.

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