On average, British retirees worked for 40.5 years before stepping down from full employment – taking into account career breaks they may have had during their working life.
During this period, they contributed an average total of 81,121 hours of work.
And Bower’s research of average salaries and tax contributions discovers that over this lifetime of working, each retiree contributed an average total of £145,680 in income tax.
More than half (51%) of retirees said they didn’t take any breaks in their working life, while the most popular reason to take a career break was to have children, followed by changing careers, serving in the military and caring for a relative.
Geoff Charles, CEO of Bower Retirement Services, said: “Our great retirees deserve to enjoy their downtime after a lifetime of contributing to society. Over the course of their career, most pensioners work for tens of thousands of hours, and pay a small fortune in taxes. And this doesn’t even touch on the care and time they have committed to their family, friends and country.
“It is commonplace to find that much of the cash earned during a career can be locked up in property – which is often the one largest asset a pensioner owns.
“To some extent, this means retirees are unable to enjoy the fruits of all those hours of labour.
“It seems unfair after all their hard work that they may be stranded in a situation where they are struggling to pay for care, can’t support their children and grandchildren in the way they would like, or don’t have the free cash to go on the holiday of a lifetime or to fund the hobbies they enjoy.
“Equity release allows retirees to access some of that money, and to enjoy their well-earned assets. And it doesn’t need to eat into the inheritance they pass onto the next generation – capital gains often balance out much of the equity withdrawal.”
Even after retirement, contribution to society doesn’t stop for most, with many pensioners using their time for unpaid voluntary or charitable work following the end of full-time employment.
One fifth (19%) of retirees report that they volunteer regularly for a charity, while a further fifth (19%) engage in fundraising or voluntary work for their community.
Just under a third (29%) undertakes other unpaid work, like looking after grandchildren or caring for a loved one. On average, they contribute seven hours each week for this.
In total, retirees spend an average of 3.4 hours every week undertaking unpaid work. Over the course of a year, this equates to 23 working days of unpaid labour.
Charles added: “Even after retirement, working doesn’t stop. Many pensioners volunteer for their local community or a charity close to their heart. Not only this, taking on unpaid labour also allows them to continue learning new skills, and provides opportunities to make new friends. Actively engaging pensioners in the community should be encouraged as a result. Not only is their unpaid work of great value, but building a sense of community can have a tangible effect on their happiness.”
When asked what they would like from their retirement, most retirees highlighted that they want time to relax (57%), time to travel (56%) and time for their hobbies (55%).
One-seventh (15%) reported that they would like to spend time volunteering, while 4% described an ambition to set up a business.
“It’s hardly surprising that our retirees are looking forward to some relaxation in their retirement,” Charles went on to say. “But this research also highlights that though their main work may be over, they are by no means winding down. Retirement provides the opportunity to complete life-long aspirations, be it travelling to other countries, learning another language or skill, or even setting up a business. It should be a fulfilling and exciting time of life, during which aspirations can be realised. Pensioners should not be wracked with financial worries. Qualified financial advisers are well placed to help them make the most of their finances, and where appropriate, equity release can be one way of easing the financial burden many pensioners may be feeling.”