Older people

The issue

The structure of our society is changing – more of us are living longer.

Life expectancy has been growing steadily for over half a century. In 1951, a man aged 65 could expect on average to live to the age of 77. Today, he can expect to live to 86, and by 2050 to 91. Today there are 15,000 people aged 100 or over.

The UK has now reached a point where there are more people over State Pension age than children. By 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts that people over 50 will comprise almost a third (32%) of the working age population and almost half (48%) the adult population (DWP The Older Workers Statistical Information Booklet, December 2013).

We see retirement as an increasingly active phase of life where people:

  • have opportunities to continue contributing to society by working longer or volunteering in their communities
  • take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing by working, saving and looking after their health


Improving recruitment and retention of an ageing workforce

Fuller Working Lives: a framework for action, published on 13 June 2014, explains how working longer can benefit individuals, businesses, society and the economy. It sets out a number of new actions we will take to help people have fuller working lives.

On 14 July 2014, the Minister for Pensions announced that the government had appointed Dr Ros Altmann CBE as Business Champion for Older Workers. The role involves challenging outdated perceptions and making the case for older workers within the business community.

On 11 March 2015 we published Dr Altmann’s recommendations in her report ‘A new vision for older workers: retain, retrain, recruit’ for improving the working lives of Britain’s over 50s.

We have also published guidance about employing older workers and working past 50. This includes the ‘Employer toolkit: guidance for managers of older workers’, produced in partnership with the Age Action Alliance, that covers all business sectors. The toolkit is available as an interactive version and to download as a PDF.

The toolkit builds on our previous Age Positive guidance. This provides case studies and tried and tested solutions to managing an ageing workforce from recruitment through to addressing under-performance.

Enabling people to stay in work in their 50s and early 60s and, if they wish, after State Pension age can help support the financial, health and social well-being of individuals into later life. It is important for our economy, for employers and for individuals to make sure we can continue to afford pensions. For example:

  • retiring at 55 instead of 65 could reduce an average earner’s pension pot by a third – they would also have to spread this over a much longer retirement
  • UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could have been £18 billion higher in 2013 if the difference in employment levels between people in their 40s and those aged 50 to State Pension age was halved
  • by 2022 there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16 to 49, but 3.7 million more people aged 50 to State Pension age

Raising State Pension age, initially to 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2028, will help maintain a sustainable balance between the proportions of workers and retired people.

We have also removed the default retirement age, so in most cases employers can no longer force employees to retire just because they reach the arbitrary age of 65.

For more information about Fuller Working Lives and the Business Champion for Older Workers, contact fuller.workinglives@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Helping older people get online

We live in an increasingly digital world, everything from providing services to social interaction is changing.

DWP’s ‘Digital strategy’ sets out how the department will provide the high quality digital services people prefer to use.

As information and services move increasingly online we need to make sure that older people are not left behind and are able to benefit fully from the increased independence that comes with digital competence. At the same time we will make sure our services continue to be available to those who are not able to access them online.

Celebrating Older People’s Day

We encourage people to get involved with and celebrate UK Older People’s Day held on 1 October each year to coincide with the UN International Day of Older Persons.

The main aim for the Day is to be a national celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and to the economy. Through this we hope to start to deal with negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

Visit the Older People’s Day website for more information.


Improving local services for older people – ‘LinkAge Plus’

DWP worked with other government departments, local authorities and other organisations to improve services for older people through 8 ‘LinkAge Plus’ pilots. The pilots explored ways to improve local services for older people. This included providing access to all services through a number of points of contact such as in person, by phone, electronic or paper communications.

The pilots took place in Devon, Gateshead, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Leeds, Nottinghamshire, Salford and Tower Hamlets. We’ve published evaluation reports along with guidance and good practice for improving services for older people for each of the pilots.

Helping older people most at risk of longer-term loneliness and social isolation to remain active

On 23 November 2010, the Minister for Pensions announced that the government would provide a £1 million fund to help older people who are at most risk of longer-term loneliness and social isolation. The aim is to help them to remain active, independent and positively engaged with society following retirement.

Supporting councils to provide a better quality of life for older people through local services – ‘Ageing Well’

DWP commissioned the ‘Ageing Well’ programme and delivered it in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA) over a 2 year period which ended in March 2012. The original aim of the programme, and now its legacy, is to support councils to provide a better quality of life for older people through local services that are designed to meet their needs now, and in the future.

Welfare reform communications toolkit

Our welfare reform communications toolkit helps explain how DWP is changing the welfare system. It covers:

  • what we are changing
  • why we are making the changes
  • when we are making the changes

Who we’re working with

UK Advisory Forum on Ageing

DWP and the Department of Health co-chair the UK Advisory Forum on Ageing. The group brings together representatives from organisations that work with older people, regional representatives from older people groups, devolved nations, government offices and older people themselves.

The forum’s role is to help improve the independence, health and wellbeing of older people and to address the opportunities and challenges of an ageing society.

Age Action Alliance

Age Action Alliance is an independent partnership of over 500 organisations from all sectors. We are working together to develop practical action to improve the lives of older people, particularly the most vulnerable and excluded.

Working with local and regional representatives

We’re encouraging organisations to work together in local and regional areas to:

  • identify common themes that need to be brought to the attention of national government
  • provide direction and leadership on local and regional issues affecting older people
  • help spread good practice locally

Bringing generations together

We are working with other organisations to bring people together to promote greater understanding and respect between generations. These organisations include:

Working with other countries and international organisations to improve the lives of older people

We are working with other countries and international organisations to help improve the lives of older people in an ageing society.

This includes signing up to the: