Transitions & Retirement








Lord Wei launched “Next steps: Life transitions and retirement in the 21st century” on Monday the 2nd of July – a report supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

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Millions of people make significant life transitions every year in Britain, whether it is related to schooling and youth (e.g. transition into adulthood), starting a family (e.g. becoming a parent), entering (self) employment, or entering later life and retirement. Although many are planned and desired, for many people such transitions can often be traumatic, carrying often a high personal cost and stress as well as social and economic consequences for the state.

Lord Wei’s report finds that there has been limited systematic focus in policy making on supporting life transitions holistically; and that there is scope to use National Service Programmes as a tool to address the most common ones, particularly those faced by young people, new employees, new parents and retirees.

Given the impact of the millions due to retire in the coming years, the report highlights the potential to create a National Retirement Service, led by retirees, for retirees – a service designed to assist those entering retirement with the support of their employers and the state, to plan for the future, build self-help networks, and engender trust across generations.
A key recommendation of the report is that there is a need for a public policy forum to better understand life transitions. In response to this need, an All-party Parliamentary Group on Life Transitions is to be formed, led by Chris White (Con) and supported by Lord Wei (Con), David Blunkett (Lab), Charlotte Leslie (Con), Lord Adonis (Lab), Frank Field (Lab), Robert Halfon (Con) and Lord Rennard of Wavertree (Lib). It will investigate further the impact of life transitions and what policy makers and social entrepreneurs can do to help address them.

Leading employers and voluntary organisations with interest/expertise in life transitions and the retirement were consulted in developing this report. These include ManpowerGroup, Saga Group Ltd, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK, Beth Johnson Foundation and UnLtd. Many of the above organisations will now work with The Shaftesbury Partnership to develop a pilot National Retirement Service programme to help enable retirees to smooth, and take charge of, their transition to later life.

Lord Wei said: “We politicians do not focus enough on helping people cope with the big changes in their lives. This is a very timely report and I look forward to carrying out further research in this area with Chris White MP and others through the new Life Transitions APPG. I am also excited that we will be working with the Shaftesbury Partnership and other organisations to develop a National Retirement Service pilot, making the report’s key recommendation a reality.”
Andrew Barnett, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch, said: “We welcome this report which seeks to better understand the role of life transitions and potential policy responses. Clearly, one area of great need is the transition into retirement – currently faced by millions and increasing. The recommendation of a National Retirement Service could be a powerful way to help people take more control over their transition into a more fulfilling, flexible, productive life, and is worth exploring further.”

Dr. Ros Altman, Director General, Saga Group Ltd. said: “The idea of a National Retirement Service is important because it can help promote better later lives for the rapidly rising numbers of older people in the UK. We are currently wasting valuable resources. The old fashioned concept of retirement does not fit well with 21st century realities – we need to rethink retirement. In our later years, it is much better to keep active – this can involve working part-time, volunteering or caring for others. A better work-life balance and more fulfilling lives.”

Ruth Harper, Head of Corporate Affairs, ManpowerGroup said: “ManpowerGroup often talks about the challenge, opportunity and value that the variety of baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y brings to the labour market. Never before has there been the same range of skills and experience in society. We need to provide opportunities for those experiencing such a change to continue to play a valuable role in the labour market as they wish and that meets their needs. We’re pleased to support this initiative and look forward to seeing how these ideas develop.”

Patrick Shine, Partner, The Shaftesbury Partnership: “Understanding and supporting life transitions is vital in making civil society more resilient. The Shaftesbury Partnership is very excited to be leading the development of the National Retirement Service pilot, a key recommendation from this report. From our experience of designing similar programmes we know that they need to be co-designed with the end users and with every implementation detail considered. As the founding Chair of The Challenge Network, I have had real-world experience of taking such programmes from vision to implementation with a relentless focus on making social impact and building better civil society; I welcome the opportunity to do so again.”

Katharine Danton, Director of Research and Policy, UnLtd said: “We welcome the intention expressed in this report to expand opportunities for people in the retirement transition. From our experience of supporting older social entrepreneurs, we know that those in the retirement transition wish to shape and celebrate their future. We look forward to working closely with the authors on further developing this work.”

Lynne Wealleans, Positive Ageing Manager, Beth Johnson Foundation said: “The Beth Johnson Foundation is very happy to endorse the findings and recommendations of this report and to support the future development of a National Retirement Service programme. In designing its model of a life course approach to promote positive ageing, the Foundation concentrated on key life events and times of transition, aiming to identify potential interventions that would assist and support individuals during these periods. Moving from the working life stage to retirement and on into later life is just such a major transition, and one that would benefit from a dedicated programme of support that has been designed and delivered by people with experience of it.”

David Hughes, CEO, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) said: “NIACE supports the central tenet of this report, that life transitions present both challenge and opportunities for all of us. For many people having a positive attitude to, and experiences of, learning means that they have the ability to adapt and cope better with transitions. It’s vital that more and more adults are supported through lifelong learning to develop those skills and attributes so that they see retirement as a positive transition. Lifelong learning can have a central role in empowering adults to better manage the transitions of later life and retirement. We are excited by the ideas in this report and look forward to helping to take them forward.”

Press reaction

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