MPs have confirmed what Wise Age has been saying and campaigning for over the past seven years, that ageism against the over 50s is leading to a waste of human potential and a waste to the economy. The silver economy (the amount of money earned and spent by the over 50s) is a key element in maintaining our economy and with rising 50+ levels of consumption goes a greater need by employers to employ over 50s to meet their needs.
As part of our networking and partnership work, Wise Age is happy to promote a series of events being run by Positive Ageing in London ( PAiL) in partnership with the GLA/Mayor of London's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) TEAM.
Chris Walsh, our Chief Exec is also chair of PAiL and a member of the EDI working group, has been in the forefront of efforts to help make London an Age Friendly City. Following a conference held at City Hall in May, and chaired by Chris, where the Deputy Mayor for EDI spoke and introduced their Age Friendly city commitment, it was agreed that older people would take the lead in facilitating this programme in partnership with GLA officials and elected reps. To do this 8 working groups have been set up to develop strategies around each of the 8 World Health Organisation's domains or themes. These groups are meeting to agree the current research and situation relating to each topic based on research carried out by GLA officers, plus agree key recommendations and concerns raised by older people, based on previous agreed Recommendations arising from past PAiL conferences and other work on policies and demands raised by member organisations such as the National Pensioners Convention, retired members groups of Trade Unions, Age UK London and other organisations who are part of the London Stake Olders network. These domains include Employment (in which Wise Age are playing an active role) , Community Support and Health Services (including Social Care), Transport, Communication and Information (including Digitalisation), Housing, Social Participation and Civic Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion plus an Open Spaces and Buildings / Street audit.
At the end of the initial meetings of each of these groups, we will have drawn up a draft list of actions, priorities, research results and Recommendations / demands - which will then form the basis of a wider discussion open to all our members and other concerned older Londoners to agree a final plan for that domain. This will then lead to a wider Conference to draw up an agreed action plan to make London an age friendly city, including proposals for the Mayor's Office for implementation. This was supposed to take place on Friday 1st November at City hall, but the GLA have cancelled it and will let us know a new date later on There will be two one-day training sessions helping people to become age friendly street auditors and age friendly champions on Thursday 12th September at London Met University, Holloway Road and on Friday 13th at Sainsbury's training centre on the Strand from 10am.
At present there are less than 50% of people aged 64+ who are in work as a result of ageist employment practices and prejudice. We at Wise Age have been fighting against extending the pension age until and unless the majority of people in their last year before their pension are in employment. The older you get after 50, if you lose your job, the less chance you have of getting another full time job again (by 60 that is a less than 8% chance). So why do they want to extend the pension age? This is not an economic argument but a political one, the Conservatives and the right wing media want to make this into an intergenerational conflict to deflect from the real conflict between the wealthy and the rest of us and to keep people from focusing on the impact of austerity.
The older generations do not cost the country money, on the contrary they make a positive economic contribution and if it were not for the 'silver economy' we would be in a major recession.
There are 71% of people aged 50-65 in work, who make a major contribution into the economy. Their presence in the workforce helps increase productivity, profitability and improves staff morale, with more younger people being taken on and trained when older people are retained. Yet of the 29% out of work only 10% receive unemployment benefit, because so many of us are forced onto other benefits or not claiming at all.
For those that are aged 65+ there are now 1.2 million still in work, but voluntarily, as they are able to retain their pensions and work, often flexibly, while continuing to pay their taxes. This voluntary option is working very well and should be encouraged. But to force people to carry on working - when there is not much work for them - and for the many that have been exhausted by hard manual labour or health conditions this is an unfair, unjust attack on their right to enjoy their final years on a decent income.
The reality for many pensioners is that they live under or very close to the poverty line and the majority of pensioners earn less than £12k per year.
This obscene proposal by rich entitled and brutal politicians is a continuation of the demolition of the welfare state and the right to basic living standards while the richest continue to receive tax loopholes and benefit entitlements such as the subsidies to landlords and employers.
Wise Age continues to fight this and other attacks on ordinary working people of all ages. Remember what the Tories want to do to our rights, protections and incomes next time you vote.