Spiralling inflation, volatile financial markets and the soaring cost of living are leading to the “great unretirement”.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows there was an increase in economic activity (people working or looking for work) of 116,000 among the over-50s in the past year. More than half the total increase is among men aged over 65 – whose economic activity levels increased by 66,000, or 8.5%, in a year – with 37,000, or 6.8%, more women over 65 in or looking for work. Experts say in-depth research indicates the increase is driven by former people in retirement returning to work, rather than people working longer.
“People who thought they could retire comfortably during the pandemic are having to unretire and find work again to bring in extra income and top up their pensions while they still can,” said Stuart Lewis, the chief executive of Rest Less, a digital community for the over-50s. “Increasing numbers of retirees are feeling poorer than they’ve felt before, with consumer confidence at a record low and purchasing power eroded on a monthly basis,” he added. “All this is driving the trend of unretirement.”
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said it was no wonder that significant numbers of retired people were “scrambling to return to work in an effort to shore up their finances against the storm...Carefully laid retirement plans, which looked economically sustainable a year ago, are now shot to pieces..."
Ros Altmann, the former pensions minister and Conservative peer, said, “The fear of inflation has caused huge anxiety and driven some to return to work even if their health may not be up to it.”