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Little England:articel in KCWToday August 2017

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Little England by Derek Wyatt


You know. You know when you know there is something not quite right but your unsure what to do? Well that's me today.

We no longer know what to do with anyone over 60. It is personal. I am over 60. When it was my parents turn they had certainty. They were working one day and then as they turned 60 and 65 respectively they no longer had to go to work. They had so looked forward to this happening to them. They had been saving furiously and had chosen to retire to Vancouver Island where their son and daughter and three grand children lived (my Mum was Canadian). 

It was a disaster. My Dad missed his pint at the Legion and watching and umpiring cricket in the summer. My Mum loved it. She was home after forty two years away. My Dad came home. Thirty nine years of marriage and six years of war time wooing ended. It was no recompense to him that he came to deeply regret his decision. 

But it was a disaster in another way. 

Both my parents were good at their jobs and contributed wisely to their various organisations who had employed them. Suddenly they were cast off. What a mad idea to let those with wisdom in an organisation be lost to it. Why were they not asked if they would consider going down to three days a week or whatever. 

Since I left Parliament (or stood down in Westminster currency) in 2010 I have worked for myself ducking and diving trying to make a honest crust. It has not been easy. What a fool to resign from a job in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s (I would have lost my seat anyway, I had a slim majority of 79) but you take my point. 2010 was tough. It is still tough seven years on. 

But now there is no certainty; there's nothing. There is no actual retirement age unless like PwC partners it is written into your employment contract or terms of trade. Whilst we all accept we are fitter and in better health than our parents and grandparents were when 60 or 65 we can go on. And on. And on. And we do. 

This is bonkers. If you are in the senior management team or close to it you are at the top end of the salary scale and therefore if you have a company pension scheme you will have the largest contributions. So every year you cost the company more. Park that notion.

If you do stay on what happens is that the best middle managers start quitting because their line to be a senior manager has been foiled. Losing your best talent is not a good idea. Especially as to fill those breeches you will have to pay more for an external candidate who may or may not settle in and thus could disturb the company culture.

Into this melee has arrived the head hunter. There are millions of them. They seemingly mutate daily. I am not sure what the collective noun is for them but a quick suggestion would be a Helpfulness of...... Then as senior management loses its confidence they employ consultants and hugely inflated fees. This is a collective madness. 

Let us start again. It is a good idea for there not to be a retirement age. If you are 40 reading this article the strong likelihood is that you will live till your late eighties or early nineties. Put another way under the rules for my parents you will be retired for 25 years or more. Currently, leaving aside compulsory euthanasia, the state does not have a clue about how to pay for your health, your housing, your care package and your pension. This is very serious.

And another thing, people over 60/65 are more likely to vote and to vote Conservative. Of course, they were shaken to their roots during the election just past when the Prime Minister would not agree the triple lock on their pensions, their winter fuel allowance and their free tv licences over 75. This was then compounded when out of nowhere the PM declared that our care package would probably be taken from the equity we had in our houses for those lucky enough to have a house. (Let us pause here and remind ourselves how many of our children in their 30s are still renting). 

So what this tells me is that no-one in Westminster whatever the party has really done the sums for us oldies. And if they have they are not telling. The only way of caring properly for those over 60 is to tax those under 60 higher than they are currently. 
We are done. We have huge debts which are unlikely ever to be paid off (2025 is the latest date but this is a flight of fancy). We have the biggest crisis in the housing market ever.

And then I think, actually the way our Government functions tells us it is past its sell by date. We need a new version of a Royal Commission made up of politicians of all faiths and none and experts and you and me to look at the post 60 issues and a new Secretary of State to boot. We need it today. 

It is not going to happen. You have been warned. 


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