Channel Islanders delaying retirement "as state pension is not enough alone"

There are claims older people in the Channel Islands are delaying their retirement because they cannot afford to live on just their state pension.

87-year-old John Cooper works at an antique store in St Helier and told ITV News that he continues working for enjoyment and financial reasons.

He said: "My youngest is 17, and I also have a daughter at university, studying Nursing. I could survive, but if you want to live and have one or two luxuries occasionally, it's nice if you can carry on working."

57-year-old Antonio De Lemos works with John and added: "For someone to retire in this island, the old age pension should be minimum, for a single guy, £500 a week - £1,000 for a couple. Then they can afford to retire."

The state pension age has risen to 67 in Jersey and 70 in Guernsey.

Ben Shenton, Chair of Age Concern Jersey, told ITV News: "In Jersey, you've got a two-tier pension; those with the private pensions that can afford to retire, these are public sector workers and people that work in finance.

"Then you have people who don't have private pensions and these tend to be the lower paid and, quite honestly, with the high cost of rent and living in Jersey, they're forced to work much later in life

He added: "A few people do have jobs that they love and choose to work on, but I think the majority look forward to their retirement.

"If they don't have a private pension, they'll look at what the state pension gives them and think, 'I can't exist on this, I'm going to have to carry on working."

Keith Bienvenu has been working at Forest Stores in Guernsey since 1961 and continues working not for money, but because he enjoys it.

He said: "I think it's probably because I still enjoy it and being my boss I can pick my hours and I am free to come and go as I need.

"Jobs like this, you're meeting people all the time which is part of the joy of the job."

In response, Jersey's government said: "Not every employer in Jersey offers an occupational pension and a project is underway to address that gap and allow all workers to save for their own retirement.

"In addition to the States Old Age Pension (OAP), lower-income pensioners may be eligible for additional government support measures.

"These include Pension Plus and the Health Access Scheme, for medical costs and GP services; the Cold Weather Bonus; the Christmas Bonus; the Community Costs Bonus, to help with the cost of living; and free TV licenses.

"Pensioners who think they may be eligible and are not currently receiving these benefits should contact the Pensions and Care Team."

“Since taking office the Social Security Minister has prioritised meeting with key stakeholders such as Age Concern to discuss how the cost of living pressures can be addressed. She will also meet with the Older Persons Living Forum at the earliest opportunity."

Deputy Peter Roffey, President of Guernsey's Committee for Employment and Social Security, added: "Each year the States increases its pension in line with guideline policy.

"The current policy ensures that the States' pension is always increased at the rate of inflation, as a minimum. On top of that the pension goes up further by a third of the difference between inflation and the increase in average earnings during those periods when wages are rising faster than prices."

Deputy Roffey added: "Despite this, we know there are circumstances where the States' pension alone may not be enough to live on. If pensioners are concerned that their income is not enough, I encourage them to contact Social Security to enquire about Income Support.

"This includes support with medical costs, a Winter Fuel Allowance, and an Extra Needs Allowance. Other support is also available for people who fall just outside of the Income Support requirement.

"To help future pensioners enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle, and to reduce the demand on tax-funded income support, the States has approved secondary pensions legislation which will provide islanders with the opportunity to save more now for their retirement.

"These savings will be tax deductible, and employers will contribute.

"From 1st July 2024, larger employers (those with 26+ employers) will be required to enrol their employees into an approved secondary pension.

"Over the following 15 months, smaller employers will also need to provide approved secondary pensions for their employees on a phased basis."