Coalition pension plans under fire

Elderly women on benchConfirmation of plans to reform the state pension system will end up making people work into their 70s, campaigners have warned.

Unions and pensioner groups attacked the coalition and said they remained opposed to the controversial changes.

The Government said in its mid-term review: "We will put in place a new mechanism to ensure that the state pension age reflects future changes in life expectancy so that the state pension system continues to be sustainable and affordable."

The Public and Commercial Services Union said people in the UK could have to work until they are 70 and beyond before receiving a state pension.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Halfway through this Government's term of office it is obvious that austerity isn't working and that the coalition's obsession with cuts is making our economic situation worse.

"Yet, rather than own up to the damage they are inflicting on people and communities across the country, ministers are scapegoating people who have to rely on benefits, encouraging neighbour to turn against neighbour in the most disgraceful way. If ministers were serious about wanting to offer older people 'dignity' they wouldn't be forcing them to put off their retirement until they are in their 70s."

The union's national executive will meet in the next few weeks to decide whether to call a fresh ballot for national industrial action over pensions.

Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "Despite the warm words in the mid-term review, the coalition's plans to reform the state pension system will end up making people work longer but contains no pledge to give a higher state pension to existing and future pensioners.

"Likewise, the issue of funding for long-term care has frankly been ducked. There is no way you can create dignity in old age without providing people with a decent state pension and proper care when they need it, but the coalition's new programme has two gaping holes in it on these major issues. There is no plan to improve the state pension - which remains amongst the worst in Europe - and no detail about how long-term care is going to be paid for despite the system facing a funding crisis.

"If this is the best the Government can do after two-and-a-half years in power, many older people will feel their concerns have been ignored."
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