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Record number of people forced to work into old age

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A mature businesswoman
A mature businesswoman

Half of all over-50s will still be in the workforce by 2030 as older workers increasingly delay retirement.

Hundreds of thousands of extra workers over the age of 50 will stay in work longer, either because they cannot afford to retire or because the rise of remote working improved flexibility. That is according to research from Legal & General Retail Retirement, the pension group, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy.

The number of over-50s still in work has increased by 36pc in the last two decades, mostly driven by more people staying in the workforce well into their 60s.

The vast majority of people take retirement by the time they reach the state pension age of 66. Just 8pc of people over that age have stayed in work. These people worked average of 26 hours a week, far below the national average.

However, an extra 948,000 people are expected to continue their careers beyond age 66 by 2030, the research found.

Delayed retirement has partly been driven by a gradual shift in wealth. Those nearing retirement have become relatively poorer than a decade ago, when those aged 50 to 64 held 42pc of the nation’s wealth. That has since dropped to 36pc.

This could be forcing many older workers to keep their jobs to bolster their finances before they can retire comfortably, as many fall short of the required pension savings.

More than 1.4 million people will be forced to delay the end of their working lives by an average of three years as a result of the financial setbacks caused by the pandemic, Legal & General estimated earlier this year. It found that a total of 2.6 million people are expected to have to continue working indefinitely to make up for the lost earnings.

Andrew Kail, of Legal & General, said the research found there had been a significant shift in working patterns. “Gone are the days of ‘carriage-clock retirement’ and we need to make sure people understand the implications so that they can better plan for their future.”

Mick Logg, 69, from Castleford, who had been a lifelong miner, was told to retrain at age 51 when the local mine closed down and he faced redundancy. Mr Logg said he decided to train as a ski instructor and has been working ever since.

“I saw a job advert at the local dry ski slope in the local paper and I had always been on skiing holidays every year so I decided to do it. I love every minute of it and now I have no intention of retiring any time soon,” he said.

Working from home has enabled more people to stay employed into old age as it allows for more flexible hours and cuts out the commute, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The home working revolution could transform parts of the economy and keep older staff in the workforce. The ONS estimated that if the employment rate of 50 to 64-year olds matched that of 35 to 48-year olds, it would add 5pc, of £88bn, to annual GDP. One-third of workers aged 50 to 69 worked from home in April and May, the ONS said.

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