Between 2015 and 2020, the number of people aged over 65 in the UK is expected to grow by 1.1 million. The costs of care and our modest state pension raise pressing issues for our country.
The only way we can resolve these problems is through collective solutions which look to the whole of society to provide for those most in need.
The Tory response is predictable: slashing back social care and leaving individuals to fend for themselves. George Osbourne’s short-sighted offering to pensioners, which allowed them to have their pension cash early, has left even pensioners with good savings vulnerable to manipulative, poor advice.
Close family friends of mine have been manipulated out of pensions and life savings. I’ll fight for better regulation to stop shady operators taking advantage of working people, whose pensions are often the first time they’ve had to make massive saving and investment decisions.
I will not stand by while people are swindled out of their money for quarter a percentage point of GDP growth.
Worryingly, with the Tories stripping the NHS and social care service of cash, we are heading for a situation where people pass the finishing line at work only to collapse in an unhappy heap, rather than reap the rewards of hard work and good financial planning. We need to localise care, and give local government the guaranteed funds to do it.
The state must play its part in keeping people fit not just for their working lives, but for their later years too. I will always fight for a well-funded, cradle to grave health and social care service for all, regardless of their ability to pay and free at the point of use.
Further, if people are to be prepared for retirement, they also need decent pay and conditions when they are in work. So many jobs now are in the gig economy, where workers are not even officially employed, never mind entitled to pensions and holidays. How is a twenty-something expected to plan for their retirement when they can barely plan how they will pay next month’s rent?
Critically, workers need to be encouraged to save, not just by bosses, but by their peers. Older workers are often overlooked and deskilled, but mixed age workplaces are the best way to show younger workers the concerns of getting older- not from their families but from their equals.
Time and again, efforts are made to pit the young against the old, as if the old were never young and the young will never grow old. Andy Burnham’s manifesto launch this week had some exciting ideas about how society as a whole can takecare of the elderly, and it is a system for which the individualistic neo-liberal Tory model simply has no adequate counterpart.
Only a collectivist, co-operating model can work to solve the problems an ageing society presents. I will be a powerful and unequivocal advocate for unions protecting their workers’ rights and fighting for decent pensions.
We must enable people to plan properly for retirement by making sure we protect each other when we are in work. We must collectively fund a health service that prevents poor health. We must collectively protect people from malicious financial services.
We need a Labour model of long term planning and solidarity. That’s what I’ll fight for.