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Time for a fundamental change in our views

On December 7, the House of Lords debated the crisis facing adult social care and 45 council leaders, in an open letter, warned that the elderly care services are “teetering on the brink”.

Last week, as the Government announces a new pension scheme to be unveiled, Tony Blair has said 80 per cent of the population should be working if the welfare state is to be properly funded.

The funding crisis we are facing is regrettable although changing demo-graphics combined with increased longevity means it is also inevitable.

However, more worry-ingly, and little commented on, is that as longevity has been increasing significantly faster than morbidity has improved, the time spent in ill health is increasing.

Actual data shows that in 1981, the expected time lived in poor health for men was 6.5 years and by 2001 this had risen to 8.7 years (the rise for women was from 10.1 years to 11.6).

Hence, not only is the number of people requiring care increasing but also the number of years that they will require care for. No wonder the Government needs so many of us to be in work.

There is no easy solution but surely we must change the way we view retirement. What our figures show is that financial requirements for retirement are not linear. The first few years are generally spent active and spending. A much quieter period follows, with lower financial needs, but then, as care is required, the income required increases, yet this is rarely taken into account when retirement is planned.

If we are to get to grips with the escalating problem of elderly care, we must surely fundamentally change the way we think about retirement years.

Ian Owen

Chairman

Partnership Assurance, London

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