By Daniel Hunter

The value of older people’s contribution to society, via unpaid care, charitable and voluntary work has increased by almost £2 billion over the last 12 months, to a total of £26.8 billion1, according to the 2012 Retirement Nation report by MGM Advantage.

The report found that the retired nation (i.e. those approaching and in retirement) gives society each year on average 75 hours in charitable work at a value of £5.7 billion and 73 hours in voluntary community work at a value of £5.5 billion. But most significantly, they provide a massive 326 hours in free care for grandchildren, parents and other family members, saving the family economy £15.5 billion in the last year.

Yet despite this contribution, the majority of the Retirement Nation feels undervalued by society. Two-thirds (65%) feel they are treated badly by politicians, while four in ten (42%) feel that society treats them badly. A further third (34%) feel they are poorly portrayed by the media.

“The retired nation continues to contribute significantly to the UK economy, increasing their impact to the tune of almost £2 billion in the last 12 months," Aston Goodey, director, MGM Advantage, said.

"Yet it seems £27 billion’s worth of unpaid care, voluntary and charity appears to go unnoticed by society, politicians and the media, with millions of retirees experiencing a significant lack of respect.

“We are calling for the needs of this diverse group of people to be represented at the highest level within government. The creation of a Minister for Retirement would ensure the voice of the Retirement Nation is heard across Whitehall and would begin to address the issue that society and politicians treat them badly.”

Simonne Gnessen, a financial coach, founder of Wise Monkey Financial Coaching, and contributor to the Retirement Nation 2012 report said: “This report highlights not only the emotional and financial wellbeing of today’s retirees, but also the valuable contribution they make to society. Without doubt, this group refuses to sit back and watch life pass them by. As they transition into this next stage of life, their health and wealth enable them to continue, if not amplify, their involvement in society to levels not previously witnessed. We must not underestimate their power and influence, but at the same time, as a group, they need to make their voice heard and command more respect from society.”

The Retirement Nation 2012 report makes a number of recommendations designed to better support older people and combat social apathy, including:

• Representation — a Minister for Retirement could make a significant difference to the Retirement Nation acting across government departments to ensure their needs are represented at the highest level.
• Intergenerational sharing - encourage greater honesty and openness, promoting intergenerational sharing and discussion about retirement both in the workplace and in the home. This would help break down the taboo of retirement.

“The retired nation is a large and powerful group in both their political and financial influence," Aston Goodey concluded.

"Without doubt they are re-thinking their approach to retirement, but, the rest of society needs to re-think it's perception of them.”

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