Friday, June 25, 2010


Raising the age of retirement in the UK from 65 to 66 and then beyond to 70 seems to be a major topic of conversation with the new government this week.
Am I the only person to wonder how the logistics of this are actually going to work?
The first problem I see is a major number of workers in the middle and upper management categories being made redundant in their late 50s, or 60 at the most. These people never get other similar jobs afterwards - they are dispensed with because they are seen as part of an older generation that needs to move aside for newer ideas or technologies. Does the government really expect our managing directors to go and spend the last ten years of their working life in ASDA or B&Q? And why do we want 70 year old managers working on the check-out in ASDA when our unqualified 16-25 year olds are unemployed? I don't get it!
Secondly and even more significantly the UK does not offer affordable childcare solutions. Maternity leave lasts a maximum of one year and the government offers you a free three (not eight) hour nursery place from your child's third birthday until they start school. As a laugh I will calculate childcare costs I would incur had I not given up on childcare long ago, but imagine for a minute I only had Anna and Amaia - that is after all not an unusual family for a 42 year old uni graduate. Anna is 2 and Amaia is 5 months. The private nursery I used when Léon was one year old, a great nursery but average in price for a Glasgow suburb, would cost me £1479 a month. When I left my job a year ago my full-time net pay was £1667. Even if petrol had been free, would you work full-time for a month to earn £188? So how do women on salaries of up to about £35K (which is way above average female income) manage to work in the UK? Well, for the most part (myself not included) women leave their under fives with their grandparents who give up their own well-earned retirement to babysit their grandchildren so their children can afford to pay for their inflated mortgages while still having children. I wonder who is going to babysit these millions of under-5s while granny and grandpa toil in ASDA till 70. Has the government budgeted for full-time childcare for all 1-5 year olds when raising the retirement age?
And that amusing calculation I promised you... If I worked full-time away from home my monthy childcare bill once Léon starts school in August would be £2323 a month during term-time rising to a £3041 month during school holidays!

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