Retired, and supporting a family

Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:32am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Andrew Webster was teaching English at a private school in west London and had just turned 67 when he got a notice of retirement in his pigeonhole.

With still-dependent children, he had been looking forward to gradually slowing down, but not this. His employer wanted to make use of a law passed in 2006 enabling companies to tell staff to leave on any date after their 65th birthday, for no reason other than their age.

"I was very cross: it was the best job I'd ever had," he said. "I felt particularly bitter about it because I had been helping to hold the place together."

The school had come under new management and he was not getting on well with the headmaster.

"I shot myself in the foot," he said. "I told him how old I was and I saw a look of dawning on his face."

He had also let his trade union membership lapse. At the end of the academic year, he left and the school replaced him with a young Australian woman.

Now 69, Webster's pension entitlement is limited to rights accumulated during 16 years teaching in the state sector, so his 56-year-old wife has returned to full-time work as a primary school teacher to help keep up the family's income.

His youngest daughter at 19 is still living at home preparing to go to university. His oldest, 26, lives at home part of the time and after a long search has just secured a job as an assistant physiotherapist -- she was one of 260 applicants.

Webster makes about one-third of his previous salary giving private tuition to students who come through agencies:   Continued...