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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The value of volunteer pensioners

It is a commonly acknowledged fact that without the work carried out by carers and other volunteers, the British welfare state would grind to a halt. If we were to pay the going rate for what they do then the money would very quickly run out.

This is acknowledged in a report published today by pensions company MGM Advantage, which found that Britain’s 12 million pensioners contribute £2,000 each to the economy every year though unpaid childcare, voluntary and charity work. That is just the tip of the iceberg of course but considering it adds up to a £25billion contribution a year to the economy it is not surprising that a third of them feel unappreciated.

Today's Telegraph quotes the report's finding that a survey of over 2,000 people aged 65 and over found that a third of pensioners think that wider society treats them badly. Meanwhile almost all retired people said that they dislike the label ‘old age pensioners’ or OAPs, with a third preferring the term ‘senior citizen’:

The report said that with the number of retired people set to get even bigger over the medium term, “more should be done to challenge the pre-conceived notion of retirement”. This year 658,000 people reached 65, an increase of 12,000 on 2010, taking the total number of retired people to 11.8 million. Next year, 806,000 people will reach 65, further swelling the number of retired people. This trend will continue as the baby boomer generation grows older.

The Retirement Nation report found that retired people collectively save the Government and parents £15.4 billion a year by taking on unpaid care of grandchildren. In addition to this, retired people undertake voluntary work in their local communities worth £5.6 billion a year, and do charitable work worth £3.4 billion a year.

Almost a third of retired people said that they feel undervalued and not respected by society. Just 14 per cent said that they feel valued, while the balance – 55 per cent – said that they are sometimes treated badly.

These are very valid findings and need to be addressed.
Good blog Peter;

I remember going to a so called university with a view to going teaching, I was informed at 43 I really was too old to consider a career in teaching and would be unlikely to secure a full time job teaching Physics.
"Senior" is the preferred term in 'my neck of the woods'.
As I am 'newly' (two years) retired I too prefer Senior. We are caring for two grandchildren and I am a Governing Body member in two local schools. Being active in the Church also I begin to wonder how I found the time to work! But fortunately, thanks to proper planning I don't need paying for all of this. Now may I go back to my gin and tonic?
Peter a very interesting blog and raises interesting issues. But I don’t think that it is going to change my life. I never think of my age and I haven’t come across anyone who has labelled me oap, senior or whatever. I’m a person – full stop.

Thanks to the then Conservative Government who decided to put the NHS in the hands of ex-Army personnel and such like I retired at 53 many years ago. (Before the NHS I was a Head of Science and Senior teacher at a Comprehensive). Of course at that time if you worked in the public sector your salary was a pittance and the saving grace was that you retired on half salary. In the 19 years since it seems that public pay and pensions have overtaken the private sector. (Is this true?). All I remember are people retiring the same time as me from the private sector and retiring on salaries far higher than mine with a much higher pension to match. I am of course comparing like with like – people with similar qualifications and training as mine with equivalent job responsibilities.

So how have I filled my time?

cont...Doing something new every year or so. So at 53 I took up rambling; then cooking, (as an ex chemist this seemed appropriate –using mixing bowls instead of test tubes); then tai Chi followed by an interest in poetry (really because many AMs wanted to censor a visit to the WA by the poet Patrick Jones but you, Peter and Lorraine Barrett insisted on hosting the meeting.) The afternoons at my dogs ’insistence is devoted to long country walks. It is true that when we meet up with other dog walkers we do look like a scene from’ Last of the Summer Wine’ but if any female should mention this, she never repeats the remark when we say “You’d make an excellent Norah batty”.

Always interested in animal welfare my serious involvement started when I was at a protest against farmers being encouraged to start puppy farming (an idea of our now Ist minister Carwyn Jones) and I remember Kirsty Williams a very young AM then taking time off to support us and also meeting Peter Law AM an ex colleague in the NHS who also supported us.
The last four years have been taken up fighting the WA and its desire to kill badgers supposedly to eradicate bovine TB (that science clearly shows it will not). I hope that shortly the WA will decide otherwise.

It hasn’t stopped me setting up a very successful Neighbourhood Watch though the members are fully aware that the animals come first, the members second.

My involvement with animal welfare brings me emails from afar but I’m most pleased with an email I had from Brian May (Bri) not to mention my run ins with Ian Hislop, editor of private Eye over the badger kill.

I find that I have no time or desire to read the press or watch much TV (that is because I have a feeling that the Welsh media is in the hands of the WA – certainly much that emanates from the WA goes unchallenged.) Recently Rosemary Butler (Presiding Officer) used the occasion for inviting 2 schools to dress the Christmas Trees to come out with the statement on the Politics Show “Last March the people of Wales gave us a resounding Yes in the referendum.”

Not true - 64% of the public did NOT vote (even less than voted for the original referendum to set up an Assembly); Of the 36% that voted, less than 1 in 4 (22.6%)of the population voted YES.
OK Yes won but please Rosemary Butler do not call it a resounding YES. That, it certainly was not.
Such erroneous statements usually go unchallenged by the Welsh media.
The only time I feel that I’m getting old is when I look in a mirror and see an image, a cross of my father and mother staring back at me. I have learnt to shave without using a mirror.
Currently I am looking into how my body can be used after my demise to cut down the often unnecessary experiments on animals (WA my body is mine NOT yours) and yes we have saved the country much many by looking in turn after my father in law, then mother in law and currently my brother in law with little or no help.

I keep mentally and physically fit by smoking my pipe (you look so relaxed I’m often told) and of course you will not find me walking the street, a filled French Stick (full size) in one hand a coke in the other and pot belly before me and fat bum trailing behind. Now nothing is done by the WA about obesity – to close to home for many AMs I guess.

Peter Pan
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