Should the state pension age increase from 68 to 75 by 2035, as proposed by the Centre for Social Justice?
Yes – Patrick Spencer is head of the work and welfare unit at the CSJ.
The happy reality is that we are healthier and living longer. In 2017, the proportion of the UK population aged 65 or over was 18.2 per cent, which is projected to grow to 24 per cent by 2037, when over half of UK adults will be over 50. But this poses two problems. First, older people are more likely to be unemployed, and second, the state pension becomes unaffordable.
So instead of passing the problem onto the next generation, why don’t we do something? Raising taxes won’t be nearly enough, and compelling people to have more children sounds dystopian.
At the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), we think that the government can do loads to improve employment rates for over 50s, and once that’s done, it is reasonable to increase the state pension age.
When the state pension age was first introduced in the 1940s for anyone aged 65, life expectancy was 66. Now people can expect to live into their 80s, and we think the state pension age should better reflect that.
No – Baroness Altmann is the former minister of state for pensions.
People who are genuinely not well enough to work into their late 60s need their pensions.
Increasing the age makes no allowance for ill-health, even though the poorest UK groups have nearly 20 years less healthy life expectancy than the most advantaged.
Further rises would compound the social injustice and discriminate against the least well-off. Has Britain suddenly become so much poorer that it cannot pay our meagre state pensions which are the lowest in the developed world?
Those healthy and wealthy enough to wait past pension age have flexibility to accrue extra pension, and encouraging working longer can benefit individuals and the economy.
But age discrimination remains embedded among employers, retraining schemes are inadequate, and more than one million 50-64 year olds want to work but can’t find employment. Many more are unfit to work before pension age, but get nothing, despite decades of National Insurance contributions.
Better reforms include raising the qualifying years required for full pension or allowing ill-health early payments.