Page last updated at 23:14 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 00:14 UK

Elderly 'should carry on working'

David Blunkett
David Blunkett said people should keep active 'to the point of our incapacity'

Older people should carry on working as long as they are physically capable, ex-minister David Blunkett has said.

In a speech to the Counsel and Care charity in London he said it should not be assumed the government had "prime responsibility" to support the elderly.

Mr Blunkett also said people should use equity release schemes to raise money from their homes to pay for care.

The former work and pensions secretary said it was important to raise the debate over the UK's ageing population.

Mr Blunkett said: "My presumption is this. That all of us, every one of us who is capable of doing so, should aspire to continue with some meaningful activity to the point of our incapacity overtaking us.

"Preferably work, of course, increasingly part-time, flexible and in many cases, very different to the work undertaken in our earlier lives.

"Perhaps, increasingly, volunteering - within our own family and immediate circle as well as outside. Offering what we can and receiving from others what we cannot."

Home ownership

Mr Blunkett said 700bn was tied up in home ownership by those who had retired.

"In our endeavour to protect people's inheritance, have we not made enough of, and are we not clear enough about, the release of equity from the enormous home ownership that exists in Britain and the divide of those with and without assets which this trend has accelerated?" he said.

"In my view, and I am open to persuasion, we should be looking to reinforce the responsibility and capability of the family and the immediate community to continue helping themselves."

Mr Blunkett later expanded on his speech to the BBC.

"I'm suggesting that part-time work - often a different kind of job - is one way firstly of sustaining people but secondly of people remaining active," he said.

"Why should someone who's not saved, who's not put money by, expect those who have to sustain them to do so not just in working life but in retirement as well."

Your comments:

I am a 68-year-old and have continued working albeit part-time (3 days a week). It's excellent for mind and body.
William Goodger, Leicester, UK

I am an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist and was forced to retire when I was 69 because my malpractice insurance premiums were skyrocketing. I am quite capable of continuing to work but I can't afford to pay my malpractice insurance premiums.
Habib Girgis, California, USA

I've elected to work beyond retirement age. I'm doing a worthwhile job in an important government department, which I enjoy, and I'd sooner hang onto the money I get for doing it. Why anyone thinks there's something great about a couple of decades doing nothing, beats me!
Jim Thorne, London, UK

I continue to work because I enjoy my job and want (not need) the money but many people are not so lucky. My partner's employer forced her to grovel for just one year's extra work after she was 65 and she will have to do the same every year. We must stop compulsory retirement!
Phil Hingley, London, UK

I officially retired as a solicitor in 2003, but at the age of almost 79. I continue to be almost as busy as before in legal-related work. I do it because I enjoy it, and believe it is important to keep one's mind ticking while clients continue to appreciate my services.
D G Frost, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I do not work because I am 64 and recovering from a mastectomy. However, I have been looking for a part-time job because, even though I have paid into a pension scheme for 20 years, my pension is only just enough to manage on. After working all my life and looking after relatives I hoped I would be able to enjoy my retirement but I can't afford to.
Brenda Whittle, Manchester, UK

I am working full-time still because I can't afford to retire. I have worked since the age of 15 and have paid my dues.
Hilary McHugh, Birmingham, UK

I was dismissed while away on holiday. I was 67. I took my employer to a tribunal and won but then lost on my employer's appeal. Their case was upheld by Mr Blunkett and co. I was over 65 so I could not be heard in court. I wrote to all and sundry but was ignored as an old idiot. This was three years ago. These people aspire to lead but can't see the road ahead.
Jim Currie, Glasgow, UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific