Two in five over-55s have experienced redundancy, enforced early retirement or stopped work due to illness in the run up to retirement

Article date: 29 June 2011

  • 74% say it is harder to find employment when you are over 55

Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report, which monitors the finances of the UK’s over-55s, today reveals that two in five (39%) of them have seen significant and often unwanted and unplanned, changes to their careers in the 10 years between their 55th and 65th birthdays. Indeed, one in seven (15%) report being made redundant, 11% were forced to stop work due to illness and 11% were forced into early retirement.

Looking at the impact of these unplanned changes, 68% said it has had a detrimental effect on their retirement finances, with 34% having to cut back on their lifestyle, 7% worrying about how to pay an outstanding mortgage and 11% considering using assets such as their house to pay for retirement.

On top of this the report found that the vast majority (74%) of over-55s said it is harder to find work after their 55th birthday and 35% said that they believed that employers valued youth and speed over experience.  

Almost half (47%) of those who were made redundant felt this happened as their company was making cuts and they were simply included in those at risk and 31% chose to take redundancy as they were offered a good package. However, a shocking 8% said they believed their company chose to replace them with someone that they could pay less. Possibly as a result over-55s believe smaller employers (24%) are better than larger employers (9%) to work for when they are older.

Further information on over-55s retirement finances can be found in the separate press release.

Despite these figures some over-55s saw the "count-down" to retirement as the opportunity to choose to move to part-tirement (5%), start their own business (3%) or resign their roles as they wanted less pressure (3%). In addition, 4% of those who had seen a premature end to their career through redundancy, illness or early retirement, saw this as the ideal opportunity to follow a long-held dream and start their own business.

While 28% were pleased to finish their working lives, others missed the income (14%) and intellectual stimulation (8%) that their careers provided. Indeed, 4% of over-55s had only been retired for a couple of months before they changed their minds and started looking for work.

Clive Bolton, ‘at retirement’ director at Aviva said: “Many people see the final ten years before they retire as an opportunity to build up their pension pot. However, this report clearly shows that almost 40% of over-55s experience a significant career disruption over this period – sometimes bringing a premature end to their working lives.

“With over two-thirds (68%) saying that this change to their working status had a detrimental impact on their finances, 34% believing that they would have to cutback on their life-style and 7% concerned about how they would pay off their mortgage – this is a serious issue.  

“With the changes to the default retirement age, people will have more choice as to how and when they finish their working lives. However, they do need to remember that some factors remain out of their hands so it is important to financially prepare for all eventualities.

“Overall, this report highlights the importance of preparing for retirement over an entire working life – rather than hoping to boost an inadequate pension pot in the count down to the end of your career.”


Download Aviva Real Retirement Report - issue six June 2011 PDF (720KB)

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Aviva Press Office:
Tom Wilson
078 0069 2053

The Wriglesworth Consultancy:
Lee Blackwell / Ben Marquand / Emma Beresford 
020 7427 1400

This report was designed and produced by Wriglesworth Research. It is a definitive look at the personal finances of the UK’s over-55 population. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also tracks how these change in the "three ages" of retirement.  

Online interviews with over 6,700 UK consumers aged over-55 between February 2010 and May 2011 provided the data for the series Aviva Real Retirement Reports.

Management information was provided by Aviva, with additional data provided by:

  • Department for Local Government and Communities
  • Office of National Statistics – Inflation Data
  • Halifax – House Price Index
  • Aviva – Family Finances Report
  • Saga – Cost of Care

A separate press release from Aviva’s Real Retirement Report which highlights employment issues among the over-55s also can be found at:

Notes to editors:
Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group. We provide more than 53 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with 19 million customers and one in three households has a relationship with us. Our combination of life, health and general insurance, together with motoring services from RAC, is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3 million into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes images, company and product information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

Follow us on twitter:

* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009.
** at 31 December 2010.

Back to top