25 Jan 2010

Mandatory Retirement Age

My 100th post on this blog and I am referring to one of my first posts last year.

Lynne Featherstone MP announced the Liberal Democrat's support for removing a mandatory retirement age.

The threat of enforced retirement at 65 is totally unacceptable," said the Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson.

This follows on from numerous news stories today on the subject.

However, the ECJ ruled in March 2009 that the UK could not remove a mandatory retirement age.

Back then I commented on the various issues with bored sexagenarians.

However, there is, I am sure, a more cryptic reason for the ECJ's decision. If we have a mandatory retirement age with only a few exceptions, we would need to open our borders to European Migration to ensure we had enough people working in Britain to maintain our exports and imports, to ensure we have services an aging population requires.

As I have debated at length, in 2012 the UK will have more people above the age of retirement than below it. And these people have limited social lives and many skills we do not resource.

Britain secured an "opt out" of the Maastricht Treaty which in turn allowed us to reduce the activity of European migration on our borders. As a result, people who come to work in Britain, legitimately, can go home to their Country of Origin and claim back the taxes they paid here.

As a result, we gain no benefits from having them working here. Were we to open our borders fully, we could tax the employees accordingly and the benefit could be invested in public services.

However, we would have to embrace the Euro. Something I appreciate people are reluctant to do, but I am personally quite in favour of!

Currently we have one third of young people out of work, which severely depletes their chances to sustain work in the long run.

As I said in email correspondence about Lib Dem policy on Older People;

While I appreciate that it appears that the party is focusing on Young People, I would add that this is predominately to ensure we have enough people paying taxes to pay the pensions of those who are retired. Currently there are 25% of people aged 18-24 who are unemployed. Unemployment in youth tends to create people who cannot hold down jobs, which means this could forcast a potential 25% of people out of work and unable to support future generations. This is why investing in the young as well as the old is a priority to any political party. In an ideal world, the pensions contributions paid would support anyone who retires, but with the fluctuations of the economy this is not possible.

This sort of financial forecasting worries governments and we should be investing in Youth employment, but we should not be cutting services or care for the elderly. And if they can and want to work, we should let them.

However, I am unsure of the paths necessary to overrule the ECJ's decison and allow Britain to regain it's economic status by allowing people to chose when they retire, from 60 to 100 if they so chose!

Certainly, my grandmother's retirement do was celebrated with White Water Rafting, and there are many like her who have enthusiasm and energy to provide our country with a variety of skills, expertise, and ultimately, taxes.

The other argument, of course, is that by removing the retirement age, we may subsequently reduce the pensions we are paying out. The average life expectancy in the UK is 77 for men and 81 for women. Rather morbidly, if they retire at 65, the government has to pay a woman state pension for an average of 16 years and a man for 12. If we allow flexibility in working retirement ages, and people start retiring at 70, for example, we will significantly reduce the money the Government has to pay out. Which gives us more money to allocate elsewhere, preferably to caring for those elderly, I would assert.

Therefore, if it is possible, the mandatory retirement age should be removed. Whether it is possible, is another matter.

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