Confirmed: State pension age rise to 68 paused as life expectancy increase slows, but decision branded ‘politically expedient’
Government plans to raise the state pension age to 68 could be delayed due to a slowing of the increase in life expectancy, the government has said.
Work and pensions minister Mel Stride told MPs “rapid rises” in life expectancy had slowed in the last decade, and plans for the date at which state pension eligibility kicks in later in life to be brought forward were now frozen.
Stride said an expected rise in state pension age from 66 to 67 should go ahead as planned between 2026 and 2028, as legislated for since 2014.
But an independent report recommended the rise from 67 to 68 should take place between 2041 and 2043 – four years later than John Cridland’s review in 2017.
Government plans are currently for the state pension age to rise to 68 between 2044 and 2046, but it has accepted Cridland’s recommendation for it to be moved forward to 2037 to 2039, subject to a further review.
However, in light of the slowing of life expectancy, Stride said the decision had been paused to allow for the data to become clearer.
Plans on pause
He told MPs: “Given the level of uncertainty about the data on life expectancy, labour markets and the public finances, and the significance of these decisions on the lives of millions of people, I am mindful a different decision might be appropriate once these factors are clearer.”
But Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the decision was a “damning indictment of 13 years of failure”.
He said it was “the clearest admission yet that a rising tide of poverty is dragging life expectancy down for so many”.
David Sinclair, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre, said: “A delay to the increase may be politically expedient but in the long term it is inevitable.
“A failure to make the tough decision now will give any future government difficult financial choices about increasing taxation or reducing spending.”