Extension of Default Retirement Age for women
Extension of Default Retirement Age for women an important step to maintaining skills and expertise in under-resourced social care sector
Leading social care recruiter says the Governments proposed new Pension Bill could help the social care sector offset dual challenge of increased life expectancy and shortage in qualified workers.
Removal of the default retirement age (DRA) for women represents a good opportunity for the social care sector to retain the skills, talent and expertise needed to meet the demands of Britains rapidly ageing population, according to leading social care recruiter BritishMedicalJobs.com.
The proposals under the new Pension Bill to increase the retirement age of women (who form around 80% of all social care workers in the UK) by up to two years could also reduce the social care sectors over-dependence on migrant workers to fill much needed vacancies, says Andrei Shelton, managing director of BritishMedicalJobs.com.
He commented: Increasingly migrant workers are being recruited into social care positions from within and outside the European Union, a trend repeated in other countries including Ireland, Italy and Austria. Although the number of migrant workers employed in the social care sector has increased faster than the national average for the UK overall over the last ten years [from about 7% in 2001 to 18% in 2009 compared to the number of foreign-born workers in employment in the UK overall which increased from 8.4% to 12.9% during the same period], there remains an ever-present demand.
The UKs ageing population is increasing at such a rate that current pension age is not only antiquated but threatens the long term care of those who need it most. We have seen a 45% rise in demand for social care workers during the twelve month period from April 2010 to April 2011 and based on current population projections, we expect this figure to continue rising for the foreseeable future.
According to figures, if State Pension age had increased in line with increases in average life expectancy since 1926, the retirement age would now need to be at least 75 years prompting Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to say last week: In a country in which 11 million of us will live to be 100, we simply cannot go on paying the state pension at an age that was set early in the last century.
Indeed, population estimates indicate that the number of people aged 65 years and above in England alone will increase by 65% from 8.2 million to 13.4 million between 2007 and 2032. Whilst for those aged 85 years and above the increase is expected to be even greater, with projections suggesting an increase of 135%.
Shelton adds: Whilst we acknowledge that simply extending the default retirement age for women will not solve the recruitment and retention difficulties within the social care sector, it will go some way to meeting the needs of a growing older population in terms of lessening the impact of the quality of care to the elderly and alleviating some of the pressures workers are facing.