OAPs could get death date estimate

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Pensioners could be given an estimate of when they might die to help them manage their finances, according to ministers.

As part of Government guidance intended to help pensioners plan how much to spend and save, pensions minister Steve Webb said experts could look at factors such as smoking, eating habits and socio-economic background when determining approximate life expectancy.

He told Sky News that giving people an idea of how long they might live would help them make informed financial decisions.

The Lib Dem minister said that in many cases, people underestimate how long they are likely to live for.

"If you are thinking about this, what do you do? For best guidance you probably think about how long your grandparents lived. But that is two generations out of date," he said.

The guidance, which could be rolled out in April next year, could form part of a major shake-up of the pensions system, which also includes allowing the withdrawal of money directly from a pension savings pot, without leaving them tied up in annuities.

But the move prompted warnings of people facing financial hardship if they fail to budget properly for the duration of their retirement.

Last month, Mr Webb was criticised for being "out of touch" after saying he was "relaxed" about people wanting to use their money to buy a Lamborghini.

Mr Webb's proposed guidance could be seen as a way of placating the reforms' sceptics, although the methodology is likely to be questioned.

He said insurance companies could use information such as postcodes, lifestyle choices including smoking, and hereditary factors to calculate a rough date of death.

"It is an average," Mr Webb said, but he insisted that "for most people it will probably be longer than they think".

Mr Webb's comments come as figures showed that life expectancy is rising steadily in the UK, with females born now projected to live until 82.7 years on average. Average male life expectancy is now 78.9 years.

The coast of Dorset fared best for women, with girls born in the Purbeck area expected to live to 86.6 years and men in neighbouring east Dorset living to 82.9 years.

Glasgow had the lowest figure for boys and girls at 72.6 years and 78.5 years respectively.

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