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Is Britain ready for 2020?   Archive

Is Britain ready for 2020? - New Mori research says No...

Could retirement become a thing of the past?  New pension plans, if they become law, will mean that we will have to work till we’re at least 71 to reach current pension rates at retirement, according to economists. Add to that the significance of an ageing population, increased life expectancy and economic pressures and all the signs are that there will be significant changes in the way we work.   

But new research from MORI reveals that employers and employees are alarmingly unprepared to deal with the huge impending time bomb created by an older working population. 

The research, conducted by MORI for the BUPA Health Debate ‘Working Britain:2020 Vision’, canvassed the views of nearly 2000 employers and employees and shows a massive gulf between expectations and reality.




By 2020, more than 1 in 4 of the UK working population will be over current pensionable age. Pension shortfalls and fewer younger people will mean many people will have to work into their mid-70s, health permitting


Nearly 60% of employees say they’d like to retire by the age of 65 and 11% of those under 34 expect to retire before the age of 55. 


The vast majority of employees (73%) say they would be unhappy about working until the age of 70. 


Disease patterns suggest that Britain’s population may not be fit enough to work into its 70s. Men can expect an average of 15 years of illness or disability during their lifetime and women about 17.5 years.


Chronic diseases will mean absenteeism.  People in their late sixties who suffers a debilitating stroke, or need a hip replaced or cancer treatment, may have to take months off work.


Unless major advances in treatment or prevention are made chronic diseases will become more prevalent as life expectancy increases. Some cancers, heart disease, diabetes and stroke are all on the increase. 


The BUPA research revealed that both employers and employees cited the management of workplace stress, as a major hurdle for the future. 


The vast majority of employers say they encourage employees to seek advice for mental health or stress problems. More than half of employers interviewed (44%) say that their employees do not suffer unacceptable levels of stress, 39% say they do.


If more people are working into later life, families who hoped to rely on grandparents to look after children whilst they worked, may find themselves in difficulty. 


Likewise an ageing population, increased life expectancy and economic pressures mean that there will simply not be enough carers to look after the ageing population. 


The research also revealed that employers are increasingly offering health benefits, such as help to stop smoking, exercise and fitness. This shift to personal health support shows that employers and employees are putting the prevention of disease and improvement of health at the top of their lists.

Greater awareness of mental health issues must be a top priority for employers now, if Britain’s workforce is to have the motivation and ability to cope in the future,” said BUPA medical director, Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen.


  • In 2000, the proportion of men aged 50- 64 in the labour force was 77% in the UK south east; and 61% in Wales.   

  • In many areas of work, employees are made redundant when in their fifties. Some firms have no one over 50 on their payroll.

Only 7% of the 55-plus get job-related training.


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