Three years on from an historic Government move to outlaw enforced retirement, more than 1m over-65s are now choosing to stay in work.
The figures are revealed in new DWP analysis released to mark International Older People’s Day.
Nearly a quarter of a million more people aged 65 and over have opted to stay in work since the default retirement age – a form of legal discrimination in the workplace – was abolished on October 1, 2011.
There are now 1,103,000 workers aged 65 and over in work compared to 874,000 in the quarter October-December 2011 – an increase of 229,000.
Having the choice to work longer can open up significant financial opportunities for individuals and their families. An average earner working one year longer has the potential to boost their pension pot by around £4,500, in addition to earning an extra year’s salary.
There are also gains for the wider economy. Research shows that if everyone chose to work one year longer, GDP could increase by 1% – the equivalent of £16bn in 2013.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: “In years to come, we’ll look back at the kind of age discrimination that the default retirement age represented and wonder how it was ever allowed. Forcing people to retire at 65 might have made sense in 1925 but in the 21st century it was nothing short of an outrage.
“We have to wake up to the needs and expectations of today’s workforce – 30% of whom are now aged over 50 and one million over 65. These people have a massive role to play in our economy and society and many quite rightly want to carry on using the skills and knowledge they have honed over decades and also pass them on to younger colleagues.
“We are now supporting older workers further by extending the right to request flexible working and providing new pension freedoms so they can combine pension income with earnings and therefore plan a gradual retirement.”
Ros Altmann, the Government Business Champion for Older Workers, added: “Older people are a huge resource for society and the whole economy. Indeed they have the potential to revitalise growth as more of them are working longer and staying active than ever before. There are currently well over one million people working beyond age 65.
“Encouraging and enabling more later-life working offers a massive potential financial boost both for individuals and the economy, as well as a more satisfying lifestyle for older generations and their families. Particularly, facilitating a phase of part-time working to ease people into full retirement can bring significant benefits but that means overcoming ageism and unfair negative stereotyping of older workers.
“It is also important to destroy the myth that older workers somehow take the place of younger ones.
“The evidence is clear that helping older workers stay in the workplace is not only good for their own finances but also helps create more jobs for younger people too. As older generations have extra income and spending power for the short and longer term, this can boost the outlook for the whole economy and workers of all ages.”
In October 2011 there were 526,000 men over 65 in work. There are now 643,000. And there are currently 460,000 women in work, compared to 348,000 in October 2011.
Many are driving an entrepreneurial boom helping boost the British economy, with over 400,000 people aged 65+ now in self-employment according to ONS data (April-June 2014).
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