If you are into long reads, the Centre for Social Justice’s (CSJ) August 2019 report ‘Ageing Confidently – Supporting an ageing workforce’ might be just the thing for you.
The Centre for Social Justice?
The CSJ ‘About’ page says that it ‘was established as an independent think-tank in 2004 to put social justice at the heart of British politics and make policy recommendations to tackle the root causes of poverty’.
The Chairman is the Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith MP, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who established the CSJ when he stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party in 2004.
It is one of a number of UK think tanks and has little political importance, though it has published a number of published policy papers that may have influenced Government thinking and policy.
Therefore, the August 2019 report is worth mentioning.
The Report (60 pages summarised)
This, essentially, says that the UK population is ageing, though there is little news in that comment. We are working longer and living longer and a number of tables, facts and figures back this up.
This focuses on the fiscal impacts of the aging population with the comment that healthy life expectancy is not keeping up with life expectancy. There are a number of benefits to having an ageing workforce, though young workers may be held back by the number of older people in employment.
This looks at the policy recommendations for an ageing society. It makes a number of comparisons with other countries and concludes:
- GPs must be better trained in occupational health (to retain and support older workers in the workforce)
- Organisations need to send a clear message to staff that mental health matters and will be treated in the same way as physical health
- People aged over 55 should be treated as a priority group and given tailored support via the Work and Health Programme (in England and Wales)
- The statutory right to request flexible working should be strengthened and should be for all employees from day one rather than at 26 weeks (to promote work-life balance
- The National Retraining Scheme (in England) should introduce and manage a Personal Learner Account (PLA) to protect a vulnerable ageing workforce
- The DWP should address the lack of awareness of the Access to Work scheme (in Great Britain)
- Employee-tailored holistic mid-Life MOTs should be implemented by employers to discuss wealth, work and health, helping people plan and manage their careers as they age
- The Government should introduce an ‘Age Confident’ scheme, highlighting and promoting the benefits of employing a diverse workforce. This would work along the same lines as the Disability Confident scheme (UK-wide)
- The State Pension Age (SPA) should better reflect longer life expectancies with the recommendation that it increases to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035
Obviously, the recommendation about the SPA is the one that made the headlines. Therefore, it is worth mentioning the age increases that are currently in legislation:
- To 66 by 2020 (Pensions Act 2011)
- To 67 between 2026 and 2028 (Pensions Act 2014)
- To 68 between 2044 and 2046 (Pensions Act 2007), though this is expected to be accelerated to between 2037 and 2039
A lot of research and analysis has gone into this report that, essentially, tries to address the fundamental ‘problem’ that the UK faces:
We are living longer, we are working longer and the considerations of an ageing workforce need to be considered by Government. This is not only in terms of the well-being of an ageing workforce but the fiscal issues that this presents – the State Pension is a valuable benefit but not sustainable with the present age entitlements.
I think what this report does is highlight issues that Government must already be aware of and, hopefully, will try to address. However, I do not think that there are any imminent concerns for employers or individuals. This is a think-tank report only that expresses their views. I am not sure that it carries any more influence in Government than me saying the same thing.
I have not read other reports by the CSJ but was drawn to this by the headline announcement about SPA increases. Having read it now, I would say that future recommendations and references need more attention to detail. For example, it makes UK-wide recommendations when some of the initiatives do not operate UK-wide.