Is the state pension age set to rise faster?


Senior Citizen

You might have thought that you were already going to wait long enough for your state pension. The basic state pension is set to rise to 66 by 2020 and to 67 by 2028 - before being linked to longevity and reviewed every five years.

But the government isn't finished yet - according to hints from one minister.


Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was taking part in a Treasury Select Committee discussion about the rising cost of the state pension. It's a major issue for a cash-strapped government as pensioner benefits cost around £90 billion at the moment. With increasing longevity, this figure is only going to go higher, so the government has been trying to find a way to keep a lid on costs.

Alexander hinted that this solution may mean increasing the state pension age even faster. He said that rather than reduce the sum of money pensioners receive, raising the pension age was the "fairest mechanism by which we control expenditure this area", he said. He added: "I could well imagine that further decisions in that space will have to be made."

What it means for you

The government has already said it will link future increases to longevity. Aviva has crunched the numbers from what we know so far. It says that life expectancy for men at age 65 is improving at a rate of one year every 3.92 years. For women it is increasing at one year every 5.2 years. When those figures are blended, it means an average of one year every 4.55 years.

Given that the government expects to review the state pension age every five years, it's not hard to see them increasing it by one year every time. This would mean that those aged 60 and over will retire by the age of 65, those aged 53-59 will retire at 66, those aged 49-52 will retire at 67, those aged 45-48 will retire at 68, those who are 41-44 will retire at 69, those aged 37-40 will retire at 70. If you extrapolate the figures to those who are currently under a year old, they can expect a retirement age of 80.

The question is whether this is going to be enough for the government: and Alexander's comments would seem to show that it may not be.

We have already had a sign that there may be more rises, more quickly, before the state pension age is linked to longevity. This came when George Osborne announced plans to cap welfare spending. At that stage state pensions were excluded, but the experts are predicting that its only a matter of time before they are included.

Hargreaves Lansdown's head of pensions research, Tom McPhail highlights that this is the only wiggle room the government has for cutting welfare spending further, and has predicted that the rise to the age of 67 by 2028 could get moved forwards. This could push those in their 40s into retirement at 70, and leaves those under the age of one facing the odd prospect of retiring well into their eighties.

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What can you do?

John Lawson, Head of Policy for Corporate Benefits at Aviva, says: "The message from government is clear 'this is what we are going to provide for you and after that you are on your own'."

He says your first port of call ought to be joining your employer's pension scheme and saving as much as you can afford. However, it's well worth taking a holistic view, to understand exactly what you will need, and the combination of savings, pension, property and work that will provide you with the income you require in retirement.

But what do you think? Is the prospect of getting your state pension at 70 or 80 reasonable and realistic? Let us know in the comments.

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