Editorial: Helping older people who want to work stay in employment is a benefit to all of Northern Ireland

Morning ViewMorning View
Morning View
News Letter editorial on Thursday March 16 2023:​

Jeremy Hunt’s budget yesterday had little that was dramatic for Northern Ireland. ​The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an extra £130 million for spending in the province, but overall spending in NI is edging down by a more than that. For the UK overall, Mr Hunt pursued a prudent path. Backed by his prime minister Rishi Sunak, he seems determined to send out a fresh signal of UK fiscal caution in the wake of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous tax cut and spend budget of the autumn.

Mr Hunt did not, as expected by some critics of his on the right of the Tory party, delay or reduced the planned increase in UK corporation tax from 19% to 25%. Such an approach of demonstrating to the financial world that the UK remains a sober and responsible economy is needed if Britain is to remain attractive to investors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But there was another important element to Mr Hunt’s speech: the attempt to get older people back into work, or to stay in work.

There is a very large economically inactive population in the UK. Much of this is due to generous perks in public sector jobs that allow many people to retire on index-linked pensions, based on a generous average of their working pay, as early as aged 60, in some cases 55.

Some such people will live in good health for four decades, and find that after laying down their tools they in fact want a new employment challenge. This is good for everyone. Having more people in work increases revenues raised (via extra paid income tax) and reduces expenditure (by cutting pension payments). It improves the mental health of hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of people who return to the workplace. And so it helps alleviate intergenerational unfairness, in which retired age groups can have more income than those in the prime of their working life.