The state pension age could be set to rise further after the former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry issued his provisional findings to the government.
John Cridland today issued an interim report on the state pension age and although it fell short of making specific recommendations, the report gave a steer to the department for work and pensions (DWP) on the types of reforms that could be made.
The report considered a number of wide-ranging topics and included a specific question of "when should people retire?". In response it challenged the current system of a "universal age of access".
Cridland highlighted that, despite equalisation between men and women, the state pension age of 65 currently has been in place since the 1920s and by 2028, when state pension age increases to 67, it "will be two years higher than when it was first set in its current form 80 years ago".
Experts concluded that this meant that further increases in the state pension age could be on the cards.
“What does seem clear, although unspoken, is that state pension age will need to rise again, said David Everett, a actuarial specialist at Lane Clark & Peacock.
Also posed was an idea that the state pension need not kick in at the same age for all:
There has never been a time when the state provided a tailored approach in assessing eligibility to the contributions based state pension. This universality is frequently challenged.
We would welcome evidence on how the communications approach should be tailored to suit a range of needs.
The report made detailed references to the government's costly triple lock promise.
The triple lock, where the state pension is increased each year by the highest of price inflation, growth in earnings or 2.5 per cent, is a commitment that all the major UK political parties have signed up to until at least 2020.
But the report stressed that by reneging on this promise, which had a "significant aspect in assessing affordability", could mean that further increases in the state pension age could be delayed:
We have repeatedly heard that ending the triple lock uprating of the State Pension from 2028 could delay further increases in State Pension age; so that pensioners in the future could receive less weekly income but have it paid from an earlier date.
And the report underlined that such a change of heart would not be breaking any legal statute:
The triple lock is not a legal requirement (the legal requirement is to increase basic state pension and new State Pension by earnings growth) but the OBR includes the triple lock in its estimates of long-term state pension spending.
Nevertheless the report warned that something ought to be put in place of the triple lock to ensure that certain groups would appropriately compensated:
"It is worth noting that while the triple lock is of benefit to all pensioners, it is particularly important... to disadvantaged groups. If the triple lock were withdrawn, as some people have proposed, there is no current mechanism to allocate some of the triple lock savings to mitigate the impact of the withdrawal for the most disadvantaged groups."
Some experts pointed to the importance of Cridland's references to the triple lock.
"This interim report confirms that unless adjustments are made to the triple lock, or to state pension ages to push them up faster, then the cost of the state pension will increase by one per cent to two per cent of GDP from a projected level of five per cent of GDP in 2020," said Hargreaves Lansdown's head of retirement policy, Tom McPhail.