17 December 2013

A row has developed over plans unveiled by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in his recent Autumn Statement, to raise the state pension age (SPA), with trade unions claiming that the new policy ignores the reality of the shorter healthy life expectancy of lower income workers such as cleaners and labourers.

In the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement, he announced that the SPA would now go up sometime in the mid-2030s, rather than between 2044 and 2046, about 10 years earlier than originally planned.

Under the reforms, anyone born after 1990 will have to work five years longer than at present to claim their state pension, meaning that workers in their twenties could have to wait until they are 70 to claim their pensions.

The Government has argued that the new formula will increase the SPA to keep pace with increasing life expectancy, which has improved dramatically in the last century.

However, trade unions claim that the new policy ignores statistics which show that poorer working people have shorter healthy life expectancies.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of the union Unison said, “It may be OK for the better off to work until they are 70 because they will have some years to enjoy their retirement. But for millions, they will never see their pension because they will die before that age.”

Similarly, in a statement the civil service union PCS said, “The reality of such a policy is that two-thirds of Britons will fail to reach the state retirement age of 68 free from disability, according to the 2001 census data… The change to 68 ignores the reality of the shorter healthy life expectancy of the poorest people by simply reflecting the increasing life spans of the healthy and wealthy.”