The long-established state pension age of 60 for women and 65 for men is set to change over the next few decades. However, the first revision to pension ages will be here before the end of next year: the age for women is set to be brought in line with that of men, increasing to 65 by November 2018, with a woman’s birth month determining the exact date the change will come into effect for her.
The equalised state pension age will increase to 66 by Oct 2020. Between 2026 and 2028, there will be a further increase when the state pension age will rise to 67. The reasons for the changes are to ensure that the Treasury can manage the cost of the state pension in the future. Life expectancy continues to increase for both men and women, meaning that some pensioners are currently receiving their state pension for more years than they spent paying National Insurance during their working life.
John Cridland, former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), was handed the task of looking at what needs to be done beyond 2028. His report, published at the end of March ahead of any official government decisions in May, recommends a further increase of the state pension age, to 68, between 2037 and 2039.
Cridland also made several other recommendations in his report. He calls into question the future of the ‘triple lock’ – which guarantees the state pension will rise in line with the highest of either average earnings, average prices or 2.5% – as it will become increasingly unaffordable in the future. If it were still in place during the 2060s, it would cost the government nearly 1% of GDP.
A further recommendation from Cridland was to improve the way that changes to pension eligibility are communicated to avoid the situation currently being faced by many women born in the 1950s. The increase to their state pension age was brought forward by former Chancellor George Osborne in 2011, meaning that some women were given only five years’ notice of the extension, throwing their retirement plans into disarray.
The report also made recommendations regarding the UK’s increasingly aging society, including suggestions for statutory carer’s leave for those looking after an elderly relative and requiring employers to introduce an elder care policy to support workers nearing retirement age who may still be looking after a parent in their 90s. “In 20 years time, the aging society will be the dominant thing that’s being talked about by politicians”, said Cridland, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box. “We have the chance now to plan for that future”.