On the international Day of Older People, more older people in the UK were having to stay in work

If there is a drawback to Second Reading (the House of Commons Library blog), it’s that the library’s stern practice of impartiality means that it can end up producing figures on a phenomenon without being able to explain why that phenomenon came about.

So it is with yesterday’s figures on ‘Older people in the UK labour market’ – which looks at key statistics regarding older people who are still in work.

First we get a graph showing that the number of people aged over 65 who are still in work has more than doubled, from 4.9 per cent in 1994 to 10.1 per cent (of 11 million people, making 1.1 million) in 2014.


Before anybody leaps in to say they’re taking jobs away from younger people, it is worth reading on to discover that they are far more likely to be self-employed or working part-time (79 per cent of the total, with 39 per cent self-employed – 438,000 people).

That’s really as far as Second Reading can go. Fortunately we have Flip Chart Fairy Tales to provide more insight into the reasons. In an article posted on August 1 this year, this blog states:

Chris Giles wrote a piece in the FT this week arguing that most of the increase [in self-employment] is due not to lots more people becoming self-employed but to lots more people not leaving self-employment who would otherwise have done so.

If that’s the case, you can’t even blame the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings after 2008 on there being lots of new people who didn’t know what they were doing. If Chris is right, this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up [all boldings mine].

The same goes for the increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants and the steady rise in non-employing and non-VAT paying businesses. If there has been no surge in new entrants, then either a lot of low profit and low turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low turnover businesses since 2008.

Chris says we should stop complaining because self-employment boosts tax revenues. It hasn’t done much boosting in recent years though. Despite the increase in numbers of people, the declared income of the self-employed was down by £8bn between 2008 and 2012.

What we’re seeing, then, is a huge rise in the number of people who find themselves unable to retire because they won’t have enough income to support themselves.

It has been said that Conservatives try to look after the elderly, because they are the only population group that is sure to vote in elections.

It seems the Tories have forgotten around 1.1 million of them.

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  1. Laura Collins October 2, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    They really are targeting older people generally. They want us to work till we drop to save money on paying pensions. Money that we paid in! Please sign my petition and share publicly please! https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/let-men-and-women-retire-at-60-with-a-state-pension Thanks!

  2. annak53 October 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Agree with Laura’s comments and have already signed and continue to share her petition.

    Recent articles and the appointment of Dr. Ros Altman – Business Champion for Older Workers (good grief!) prove that the media are brainwashing us into accepting that working until we drop is the norm.

    If people want to carry on working after 60 – fine, let them. However, those of us who want to enjoy our lives after working 45 years or more should be allowed to retire at the age we’d been promised and contributed to all of our working lives.

    Medical research confirms that the performance of many organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, or lungs shows a gradual decline over the life span. NHS UK state that “As you get older, you’re more likely to develop conditions that are rare in younger people”.

    Figures released by the Office for National Statistics confirm that Healthy Living Expectancy is LOWER than the retirement age. Yet all of these facts are conveniently ignored by politicians and the media.

    The Government have already conned us out of our state pension now they are trying to con us into working until we drop.

    Take a minute and read the comments left by those who have signed this petition. They highlight the devastation, despair and injustice the accelerated rise to the State Pension Age have caused.



  3. I signed Anne Keen’s petition to reverse the Pension Bills that raised the retirement age, and started my own, which is about the total loss of state pension by the 2014 Pension Bill to women born from 1953 and men born from 1951.


    The state pension is payable whether remain in work or have to retire from the austerity job cuts.

    The over 50s outside of London have a vast majority either within working poor or unemployed, losing disability benefits, even those paid over many years, with the changes in benefits such as DLA to PIP and ESA (Support).

    Those over 60 are not listed in the unemployment government statistics.

    Those 60 and over, even when disabled / chronic sick, are liable for months’ long benefit sanctioning that means nil food vouchers to a food bank and nil money to buy food.

    The bulk of those going to food banks are in work / poor pensioners / pensioners denied pension payout and losing benefits in or out of work.

    Those 60 and over liable for the slavery of workfare, where the company cannot pay travel expenses and provide a free lunch as that would be payment. So someone hungry, sanctioned yet forced to go to unpaid work, and loss of state pension payout.

    Starvation has risen 70 per cent in the UK since 2010.

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