Cost of living crisis: I retired but now I need to go back to work

21 Sep 2022

Julie Graham, CEO of Ingeus’s employment services, considers the plight of those people who are being forced out of retirement to boost their finances during the cost of living crisis.

With inflation topping 10 per cent, food prices rising by 12.7 per cent and energy bills up an eyewatering 80 per cent from October, we are all feeling the impact of the soaring cost of living.

Unfortunately, experts are forecasting worse to come, with inflation expected to be 13 or even 15 per cent by the end of the year and huge hikes in energy bills in 2023. People of all ages are having to make tough decisions and for one group, a complete reversal of lifestyle is increasingly becoming the only option for financial survival.

I’m talking about retired people who, a year ago, thought their pensions and savings would be enough to finance a reasonable retirement. However, thousands of formerly retired people are now having to go back to work to shore up finances devastated by the current crisis.

The Office for National Statistics shows an extra 116,000 people aged 50+ are now working or looking for work in the past year, with more than half of those being men aged over 65. So what are the prospects for those undergoing what has been called ‘the great unretirement’?

We know work is good for you; facing fresh challenges, establishing a daily routine; learning new skills; and forging new social interactions is no bad thing for anyone.

Many of those referred to us are over 50 years of age, and more than half of all of our participants are 45+.

According to the Centre for Ageing Better, a third or more of 50-69 year olds feel at a disadvantage applying for jobs due to their age. 

The charity describes age as the ‘least scrutinised and most widely accepted form of discrimination in the UK’.  If you’re an older job seeker, some of the negative stereotypes you may encounter include belief you can be:

The good news is that labour shortages in many sectors – such as social care, logistics, customer service and retail – are forcing employers to ditch some of those age-related prejudices in their search for talented employees. Indeed, they are starting to realise older workers can offer more flexibility – most of those going back to work are not looking for full-time positions – and they have a lot to offer as a result of experience.

It’s that positive attitude we encourage among older job seekers on our programmes, along with help when it comes to writing a CV or attending an interview – two things some of you may not have done for many years if you’re retired.

There must also be a realisation that work life – including technology – has changed substantially in the last few years, given the dynamic nature of the post-Covid career landscape.

Other elements to be considered include: While it’s easy to think that unretiring is bad news, let’s not forget that thousands of retired people CHOOSE to go back to work for reasons not entirely linked to money. Studies have shown that going back – or continuing – to work beyond retirement age has beneficial effects on brain health and can even reduce the risk of dementia. It can also combat loneliness and boredom, create a new social life and offer an opportunity to start something new.

For those facing the prospect of having to get back into the job market, there is support available. Ingeus Work and Health Programme colleagues worked with the Centre for Ageing Better to create and pioneer an industry-wide training programme for employment advisors aimed at helping them to offer better advice to older job seekers. So if you are part of the ‘great unretirement’, do your homework, take advice and remember that your prospects are probably better than you might believe.

Read how Stephen came out of retirement to get back into his trade of baking.

How to find the right support to go back to work after retiring

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