Now bear with me on this one. It may sound like a flashback to Screaming Lord Such, but it's not.Brian's piece Come the agequake, the 'young old' should earn their state pension contains an 'interesting' idea ..
So what do we do? We take a sledgehammer to the fundamental assumptions about later life in Britain. Because the fact is Shakespeare would have to redraft the Seven Ages of Man today, to accommodate statins, hip replacements and all the other marvels that have created a new age, the all-important "young old", people with the energy and manpower to revolutionise this country (they are already doing it). If you reach 65 in good nick today, you can expect an historically unimaginably 13 more years of disability-free "healthy life-expectancy". The young old represent a staggering civic opportunity for this country – or, if the policy wonks have their way, they are set to serve as just an extra decade of wage-slavery.
But here's my plan: the state pension age should revert to 65. And stay there.
But … you should only get it, automatically, once you hit 75, or if you get "signed off" as an invalid.Which means that in the interregnum between 65th and 75th Birthday ...
The rest of us should earn it for a decade. Yup. How? Through our contribution to national life. Through caring, childcare, volunteering (a third of 64- to 75-year-olds already do that), visiting and meeting, teaching and guiding. By doing all the amazing things the "young old" are capable of – that huge swaths of them are doing already, largely unnoticed – and that (this is the nanny state bit) the science unequivocally proves older people should be doing, for their own health and wellbeing. (Social engagement being as powerful a predictor of healthy ageing as smoking or obesity.)
Let's say, 10 hours a week scores you the cheque? (You can tell yourself you've already earned your pension, no strings attached, through 45 years of hard work – but remember, that attitude just gets you 55 years of hard work.)
Financially, we'd lose the cost of supporting many rich, lazy retirees, who'd chose to forgo the state pension for a decade and just play golf, and of people who'd rather keep working.