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Are we in an age of no retirement?

23 November, 2016

“The black line of retirement has created a deep divide in UK society. The concept of retirement was first set up when few of us reached retirement age”. These are the words of the co-founder of the ‘Age of no retirement’ (AONR), Jonathan Collie.

Jonathan CollieJonathan Collie (photo, left) added: “We have been working on a unique intergenerational research project in the UK. The research is truly extraordinary and eye opening, with huge implications for how we design products, services, systems and how we live as citizens, workers and consumers. The findings from our research of over 2,000 people from 18 to 99 has looked at attitudes and shattering stereotypes”.

A recent event funded by Legal & General, Barclays and AXA PPP Healthcare brought together around 150 people from different backgrounds to look at the current pressures on our UK population and to come up with solutions to design a better future for all, irrespective of age.

AONR adopts a variety of approaches and tactics, with a disruptive mindset – seeking to challenge consensus, develop new initiatives and make positive and concrete progress on the issues they are addressing. 

Why does society stereotype older people and think that they can’t be models, can’t wear fashionable clothes, shouldn’t listen to the latest music and should stay away from the trendiest bars?

Shockingly, why is it acceptable to make jokes about people getting old when all decent people know it’s wrong to joke about gender, race or disability?

Co design workshops

age of no retirement event at OXO towerIt’s too easy to think that we’re clever enough to understand all the issues in society ourselves. But sometimes we need to step back and ask other organisations to review what we’re doing and bring us innovative ideas. That’s why colleagues across Legal & General recently attended the ‘Age does not matter’ design workshops in London to come up with solutions to making the UK more of an age agnostic society. We talk a lot around the need for intergenerational fairness in housing and health, so we wanted to see what others thought.

Our team from Legal & General fed in their commercial and real life experience on Work and Employment, Money, Transport and Travel, Housing and Home, Media, Health and Wellbeing, Education and Learning, Technology, Care and Leisure and Entertainment.

Here are a few thoughts from our team after attending the co-design labs:

Yawar ChoudhryYawar Choudhry (photo, left), Head of Product Development from Legal & General Home Finance made a few observations from the day: “More needs to be done to get ‘under occupied homes’ on the agenda. Downsizing and the ‘Bedroom Tax’ haven’t worked so far. Some sort of social renting solution should be tested.

"We need to build/fund intergenerational homes, similar to the US. Families can bring their old folk into the property, leading to downsizing, reducing social isolation, improving health and wellbeing, growing family structure and alleviating the financial burden on the elderly, their families and indirectly on the state.

"Community development means a mix of properties to target different generations. Bungalows, properties with annexes, properties with downstairs-living spaces can all make it easier to rent unused spaces.

"Why can’t we have a half way nursing home and day care centre?

"Are we building smart homes or building homes which make remote care and monitoring easy, especially in our retirement homes? Technology is evolving fast with robotics, driverless cars, smart homes, smart gadgets, tech wear and there is something we can do in this space”.

Sarah Cook, Social Media Manager suggests:  “We must challenge the language, imagery and assumptions we use to create and market our products. We want to be one of the very few brands challenging perceptions of age, and reflecting real people in our products and marketing. People are living longer and we have a responsibility to change".

Alex Gipson, LGIM Lending Manager said: "We could give opportunities to people who have retired from our business, to remain involved and to act as a sounding board. It’s like an Alumni programme”.

Nicola Fagan, Environmental Advisor suggests: “We ought to consider linking life insurance and health monitoring and make home insurance more flexible to encourage different generations to live together in the same house. The age of no retirement has shattered my idea of long, lazy and easy days in retirement, or at least pushed it back and replaced it with more fun and challenging adventures....not a bad thing!”

David Hagarty, Group Communications Manager said: “It was enlightening to hear the view on financial services from people outside the industry. Their perception was that we divide people up into age groups, market a product we think is suitable for them and then try and offer them a different plan twenty years later. The clear view was that we need plans for life but people don’t get  enough information from product providers to help them review their finances”.

Graham Precey, Legal & General’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics summarised our experience: “As a company we have a strong belief that the not for profit sector can teach us a lot about the way that society operates and can improve our understanding of an ageing population, housing needs and health trends. This is just one example of experts we work with to improve our services, products and investments to simply do business better”.

What’s next?

From the collective efforts on the day, “Age does not Matter” has published a number of open source prototype products and services from the event which it is now looking to test and bring to the market in the UK. Who knows you may see some of this reflected in the way that we do business in the future!

More information:

What’s your experience of how older people are viewed by society?

How can we build a society where age isn’t such a contentious issue?

Join the debate and tell us what you think

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