British workers are increasingly likely to work into their 70s, according to new research that found the cost of living crisis has left older people with little choice but to stay in employment.
There were 446,601 people above the age of 70 still in work last year, a rise of 61% compared with 277,926 in 2012, said Rest Less, an online community for the over-50s that offers advice to older workers.
While most of the over-70s workforce is male, the rise has been steeper among women, most likely in response to the gradual equalisation of pension ages between 2010 and 2020. Women were previously able to retire five years earlier.
The number of women working beyond the age of 70 is up 66% since 2012, compared with an increase of 58% for men.
Stuart Lewis, the chief executive of Rest Less, drew a comparison between older workers and King Charles, but acknowledged that most continue working “for very different reasons” to the hereditary monarch.
“At the age of 74, King Charles is a fantastic example of someone who both enjoys, and benefits from, continuing to work post-state pension age,” said Lewis.
“Our latest analysis shows that there are far more over-70s in the workplace today than a decade ago.
“Until Covid hit and life expectancy dropped for the first time in a decade, there were more people reaching their state pension age than ever before, which meant there were more experienced people in the workplace than ever before too.”
Lewis said many of those reaching the theoretical age of retirement were staying in the workplace for lack of any other option.
“Like King Charles, many of these people will have no choice but to work, albeit for very different reasons to the king.
“We see many older workers today who are struggling to make ends meet amidst the cost of living crisis, with inadequate retirement savings meaning they must work in order to survive financially.”
The state pension age in the UK is 66 for men and women but is due to start rising from 2026.
From May 2026, pensionable age will rise to 67 for those born on or after April 1960. Further rises have been predicted for after the general election next year, potentially affecting millions of people born in the 1970s.
In France, plans to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64 have been greeted with widespread civil unrest.
Lewis said that while older workers may have to stay in employment out of financial necessity, workplaces were changing to make it easier for them.
“Over recent years, employers have begun to recognise the valuable contribution of older individuals in the workplace and the huge benefits of multigenerational teams, although there is still a long way to go.”
He said work practices were gradually being adapted to be more inclusive for people of all ages, which has made it easier for those aged over 70 to continue working.