‘It was awful’: four Britons returning to work after retirement | UK costs for life emergencies | Daily News Byte


aAfter more people aged 50 and over in the UK left the workforce as a result of the pandemic, this trend has started to reverse as the cost of living crisis has forced some to reconsider early retirement.

This week, a report by the Lords Economic Affairs Committee revealed that earlier retirement among 50 to 64-year-olds was the biggest contributor to the rise in economic inactivity of 565,000 UK citizens since the start of the pandemic. The trend puts the economy at risk of weak growth and persistently high inflation, allies said.

Four people share what led them to start working again, sometimes after a gap of several years and in a different role, and how long they hope to remain economically active.

‘I didn’t go back to work because the chancellor wanted me to’

Dave from Southport
Dave, from Southport, took voluntary redundancy from Royal Mail when he was 60. Photograph: Dave

Dave, 63, from Southport, Merseyside, retired aged 60 after 33 years at Royal Mail, before the pandemic hit. “I took voluntary redundancy, and the plan was to do something else for a few years, enjoy myself,” he says.

“The Royal Mail pension is OK, but not enough for everyday life and holidays or nights out. So, about a year and a half ago, I realized I could do with another £500 a month, and have them, as and when they need me, for accommodation. Back to work, taking care of the kids at home.”

Initially just using the extra income as a welcome top-up, Dave realized that when these hours dried up he couldn’t cover living expenses like utilities without using his savings. Last month, he started a part-time job in a call center on a law firm’s patient claims line for medical negligence.

“I do 17.5 hours a week, they gave me the days I like, it’s really flexible. That gives me another £500 to £600, which is not only nice to have at the moment, it’s a necessity.”

Dave says the Chancellor’s concern about the hundreds of thousands of working-age Britons leaving the workforce has not influenced his decision to get economically active again.

“I went back to work mainly because of the cost of living, it was a personal choice based on individual circumstances. I plan to work at least until I’m 66, when I’ll be eligible for my state pension. I will then decide whether I will continue working or not.

‘I found my niche at 59’

Nicky Dalglish had a break of 15 years in his career
Nicky Dalglish had a 15-year break in his career when he had children. Photograph: Nicky Dalgleish

Nicky Dalglish has started working again after her husband was made redundant four years ago. The 63-year-old, who works in the charity sector in London, previously worked as an admin assistant in investment banking and stopped working for 15 years when she had children. “It became clear to me that I needed to contribute, even if the charity salary was minimum wage,” she says.

She now works as a project manager for a program working with asylum seekers and refugees – a role she loves. She emphasizes that returning to the workforce can be especially challenging for women. “After 15 years of being a stay-at-home mom, going back to work at age 59 was challenging. Most people have given you leave.

“It was really scary and daunting to start with – I was so worried about the advancements in technology in my absence. But it was all good and I’ve been promoted several times since,” she says. “It’s amazing to feel in control from the challenge of distrust.”

Dalglish began working again mainly for financial reasons, and thought he had left the world of work for good when he left investment banking two decades ago. “I had no plans to go back – I had my first child at 41. There was no way I’d ever thought I’d go back.”

She now works three days a week, and says she “can’t imagine giving up [her job]” “It’s gone financially – I’m very invested in it,” she says, adding that she wishes she’d been in the charity sector from the start of her working life: “It feels like I’ve found my niche at this age. The location has been found. Out of 59.

‘My self-esteem is back’

David, 62, a data manager in London, returned to the workforce this year after a three-year career break when he was made redundant from his job at the City in 2019. She now works three days a week for a charity, and volunteers at a food bank once a week.

“[My City role] It was well paid and I was able to live off the redundancy money for a while, especially since my wife was working,” he says, adding that initially he had more time for long walks, cinema and seeing friends. “But after a few months, the novelty of taking time for myself wore off and I began to feel isolated, less stimulated and guilty for not contributing financially. The pandemic obviously made this worse.

He was also not ready to retire for good financially. “I’m not really in a difficult financial situation but it makes working part-time easier. I don’t earn a lot but enough daily and enough to be financially independent,” he says. He plans to continue working until he is 67 years old.

David says his role in the charity sector has boosted his confidence and he hopes to continue to be involved in voluntary work after retirement. “I fully support [the charity’s] Aim, enjoy the work and love the people here. I feel valued and my self-esteem is back.

‘I needed the money’

After a career in social care, Elizabeth Bradley, from Somerset, left the workforce in her late 50s, frustrated by the impact of cuts to local authorities. “I worked for a county council in adult social care during the height of austerity – it was a very difficult role to fill,” says Bradley, now 64.

She spent time traveling around New Zealand and Australia, but when Covid hit she began to feel unfulfilled. “At the time I didn’t feel like I had enough in my life – I was bored. I was missing that workplace camaraderie and social interaction, not just because of Covid, because I wasn’t working. I needed to have a purpose in life. And I need the income factor to motivate me,” she says.

Bradley rejoined the workforce a year ago, becoming a support worker at a charity – a role she says she really enjoys. Although she made the decision because she wanted to work again, she says the cost of living has now made it a financial necessity. “Until the cost of a living emergency, money was manageable – but it certainly isn’t anymore. It became clear very quickly that I needed money.

He works up to 35 hours a week, including overtime, and plans to continue working for many more years. “I’d like to think I can continue to offer what I do in the workplace as long as I can. I can see myself working until 70, if not beyond.


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