Ros Altmann set to challenge ‘downright inaccurate perceptions’ of the over-50s
The government has appointed the economist and policy expert Dr Ros Altmann CBE as business champion for older workers.
The new post announced today by pensions minister Steve Webb, will see the former director-general of Saga make the case for older workers within the business community, and challenge outdated perceptions.
It is the latest measure in the coalition’s drive to support workers over the age of 50 in the UK labour market.
There are currently around 2.9m people aged between 50 and 65 – the state pension age – out of work in the UK. These workers are expected to become key to filling workforce recruitment needs as demographic predictions show there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16-49 in the UK labour market over the next decade but 3.7m more people aged between 50 and state pension age.
Experts suggest this presents major opportunities for employers to harness the benefits of taking on older staff, and yet many continue to rely solely on a younger workforce.
In her new role, Altmann will “help to explain the benefits to both businesses and society of encouraging people to work longer and mobilising the potential which older workers offer”, she said.
“I have worked for many years on this issue, researching and writing about the need to embrace longer working lives,” Altmann added.
“I am so pleased that the government has shown it recognises the importance of encouraging people to stay in the labour market, rather than giving up before they need to. This will bring benefits all round – to individuals, to business and to the economy as a whole.”
According to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, if everyone worked one year longer, GDP could increase by one per cent, the equivalent of £16 billion in 2013. And if the average employee worked one year longer, they could boost their pension pot by around £4,500, in addition to earning an extra year’s salary.
Chris Ball, chief executive of The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), has pledged his “full support” for “our friend and former trustee” and described Altmann’s appointment as “inspired”.
An economist by trade, Altmann rose to prominence as a campaigner for the Pensions Theft Action Group (PTAG), seeking a remedy for the theft suffered by 150,000 people when their employers became insolvent without sufficient pension funds to meet their obligations.
Her efforts forced the government to establish the Pension Protection Fund.
She was awarded a CBE in the 2014 Queen’s birthday honours for services to pensioners and pension provision.
“In appointing a business champion for older workers I wanted a powerful voice; someone respected amongst the business community, with a track record of speaking up for consumer rights without fear or favour,” said pensions minister Steve Webb.
“In Dr Ros Altmann that’s exactly what we have.”