As our life expectancy increases, the cost of keeping us alive and healthy increases.
Two reports by the government have raised the likelihood that millions of us may have to work longer to qualify for a state pension.
Analysts at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have suggested that workers under the age of 30 may have to work until the age of 70 to qualify for a pension.
John Cridland, the government-appointed reviewer of the state pension age, proposes that everyone under the age of 45 will have to work a year longer, to 68, but we will have to wait until the government makes a decision by the end of May.
Ministers are under considerable pressure to address the expected rise in the cost of pensions, which is not only due to longer life expectancy, but also due to the fact that there will be fewer people working to support more retirees.
It is believed that at least six million workers face the prospect of an increased retirement age.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement at Hargreaves Lansdown, had this to say:
“This report is going to be particularly unwelcome for anyone in their early 40s, as they’re now likely to see their state pension age pushed back another year.”
“For those in their 30s and younger, it reinforces the expectation of a state pension from age 70, which means an extra two years of work.”
The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) warn that the state pension age could rise to 70 by 2054. Under the existing plans, the state pension age is to increase to 68 for people born after 1978.
All these figures are just ‘guesstimates’ as many factors and ‘unknowns’ come into play, but it is presumed that people spend 32% of their adulthood in retirement.
Other calculations suggest that the current retirement age could also raise from 67 to 68 within the next 16 years.
So while the increase is not due to commence until 2044, it could be introduced as soon as 2028, which will affect those now in their late 50s.
Former pensions minister Steve Webb said of these proposals:
“This is not what parliament voted for and is clearly driven by the Treasury. It is one thing asking people to work longer to make pensions affordable, but it is another to hike up pension ages because the Treasury sees it as an easy way to raise money.”
However, a report by the former chief of the CBI John Cridland foresees less dramatic changes.
He is in favour of bringing the changes forward by seven years, changing the retirement age to 68 from 67, to 2039. That would mean that anyone who is now under the age of 45 will have to work an extra year.
However, Mr Cridland said there should be “no up-rating from 68 to 69 before 2047 at the earliest, and that the pension age should never rise by more than one year in each ten-year period”.
He also wants the ‘triple lock’ for pension increases to end by the end of the next parliament.
The triple lock has guaranteed that state pension rises each year by inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.