Nick Hewer – “People have the right to enjoy their old age with dignity and comfort”

The Apprentice aide takes 15 retirees back to work tonight to find out if future generations will be able to cope with jobs into their 70s

It’s a bloody disgrace to ask the elderly to slog on until their mid to late 70s in order to keep the tax rate down. Those people moaning about high levels of taxation should be wondering what it’s going to be like when they reach that age. If you were a country lawyer you might feel more confident that you could continue to work, but even in those professions your energy levels deteriorate as you age.

Advertisement

I’m 68 and though I haven’t had a physically arduous life, I still worked very hard. Could I do the same job now? Not a chance.

How much less likely is it for a man in his 70s to be driven out of bed at 6:30am, catch two buses to be on the building site by 8:00am, work all day and then catch two buses home? We should be saying, “You’ve contributed to the exchequer all your lives and now is your time to enjoy your old age”, rather than, “You should have jolly well made provision for yourselves”.

The pensioners I met were wonderful. They were proud and tough and they wanted to do a good job. But as one said to me, “I could do the odd shift now and then, but could I do it full time?” He knew that work would kill him. Even working in the chocolate factory was arduous. Younger people can do it, but it was exhausting for the pensioners. They loved the social aspect – the banter and the chat – but keeping up with the physicality of the work was too much.

Research has shown that the concept of stepping aside for youth doesn’t improve young people’s chances of employment. The economy is like a big rubber balloon that stretches. If you’re young nowadays, you’ve got to realise that you’re not going to get a state pension until you’re 77. A third of people over 50 will have to work well into their mid-70s because there won’t be a pension.

People have the right to enjoy their old age with dignity and comfort and that has to be funded through taxation. They have a duty to work and support themselves during their lifetime and then, as elderly people, they deserve to be able to stop. You look after your elderly, disabled and insane if you wish to be considered to be a civilised society.

Advertisement

The Town That Never Retired, presented by Nick Hewer and his former Apprentice co-star Margaret Mountford, is on tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1