Ministers shelve plans to lift state pension age due to fear over backlash from middle-aged voters
Ministers have reportedly shelved plans to raise the UK’s state pension age, over concerns of a backlash from middle-aged voters in the run-up to the next general election.
The UK’s state pension age is currently set to rise from 66 to 68 after 2044. The UK government had, however, planned to bring this date forward to 2037-2039.
Ministers have now shelved these plans, that were set to be confirmed in May, the Financial Times has reported.
The government is now aiming to push any decision to a date after the next general election, which must be carried out no later than January 2025.
Tory MPs had reportedly urged the government to delay their plans to bring the lifting of the state pensions age forwards, amid concerns about backlash from voters.
In France, Emmanuel Macron’s recent push to lift the country’s state pension age from 62 to 64 led to major backlash that saw nationwide protests and fierce clashes with police.
In calling for the UK government’s plans to be shelved, Conservative MPs raised concerns that working voters might resent having to work for longer following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to relax tax rules for wealthy pensioners.
Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at PensionBee, said: “An earlier increase to the State Pension age from 67 to 68 would have gone down like a lead balloon.”
The pensions expert noted that falling life expectancies have removed the main justification for lifting the state pensions age, as she argued any decision to lift the threshold risks being viewed as “punishing” people on lower incomes.
Life expectancies fell by average rates of 1.2 years for men and 0.9 years for women between 2020 and 2021 due to the effects of Covid-19, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows.
The cost of paying out state pensions is set to increase from annual sums of £110bn in 2022/23 to around £148bn a year in 2027/28, forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) show.
The UK government is currently seeking out ways to tackle the country’s labour shortages, in part by working to ensure over-50s stay in work for longer.
Standard Life managing director Dean Butler noted those workers planning to use their own savings to retire early would be forced to consider whether to face an “extended period in the workforce” or instead make their savings stretch.
Those that qualify are eligible to receive state pensions payments of £9,627.80 for the full tax year 2022/23.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “The Government is required by law to regularly review the State Pension age and the next review will be published by 7th May.”