The former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, John Cridland, today published an interim report into the state pension age for the department of work and pensions.
The report's 100 pages covered a lot of ground and although it shied away from making firm recommendations, it may gave an indication into how the government plans to provide support to retirees in age where people are living progressively longer.
Below are four areas that many experts focussed on in reaction to Cridland's report.
On the rise?
Currently the state pension age will increase to 67 by 2028. Some experts felt that the report implied that this would need to rise further.
Andrew Tully, pensions technical director, Retirement Advantage said:
"Accelerating increases to the state pension age seems inevitable."
David Everett, an actuaries partner at Lane, Clark & Peacock said:
What does seem clear, although unspoken, is that state pension age will need to rise again.
Richard Parkin, Fidelity's head of pensions policy, said:
"It’s clear the resolution goes beyond pulling the rather crude levers of increasing the state pension age or reducing benefits."
At the moment there is one universal pension age across the UK, despite differences in health and life expectancy. The report referenced a "tailored approach" instead of a "universal" one.
Richard Parkin said:
“The report demonstrates that there are huge variations in people’s needs and experiences however it does raise more questions than it answers."
Former pensions minister and director of policy at Royal London, Steve Webb said:
It is true that people in different parts of the country and different occupations may have lower life expectancy and poorer health outcomes.
But the right response to this is to tackle those health inequalities at source rather than to use the blunt instrument of the state pension to solve these wider social and economic problems.
Carolyn Saunders, a pensions specialist at Pinsent Masons said:
"It is encouraging to see the emphasis placed on fuller working lives. However, this is something that needs to be considered in the context of the employment opportunities available in later life."
The government's promise to a triple lock in increases of the state pension – where the state pension is increased each year by the highest of price inflation, growth in earnings or 2.5 per cent – has come under scrutiny in recent months. The report mentioned the phrase "triple lock" 25 times.
Andrew Tully said:
"Set against a backdrop of an ageing society, costs for funding the state pension are predicted to rocket by 39 per cent to £152bn a year by 2028, so something will need to give."
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown said:
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.
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon said
“The state pension makes up around 40 per cent of retired household’s incomes today. However, as society ages, the cost of providing the pension falls on a smaller number of workers.
“The state pension has seen a great deal of change recently, with the introduction of the new flat rate, amends to state pension age and questions about the affordability of the triple lock raised."
Clear or under whelming?
With no actual recommendations, experts were split as to whether a report with more teeth would have been better.
David Everett said:
“John Cridland has taken full advantage of the wide terms of reference he was given and should be congratulated for resisting the temptation to set out a way forward for the state pension age at this stage."
AJ Bell's senior analyst Tom Selby said:
While changing the state pension age requires careful consideration, today’s interim report by John Cridland is underwhelming. It sets the scene without ever letting us in on what the final report might propose.
A senior consultant at Barnett Waddingham, Malcolm McLean, said:
“Although the report does not reach any firm conclusions about the future direction of travel in this sensitive area, to my mind it clearly sets out many of the difficulties of maintaining a single state pension age for all and continuing to extend it at intervals based on some arbitrary assessment of increasing life expectancy."
Kate Smith said:
“Today’s report gives us a clear insight into the direction on John Cridland’s thinking where he sets out affordability, fairness and fuller working lives as his three key pillars which will no doubt inform the consultation he has launched."