PUT that retirement cruise on hold — now we’ll have to work until we’re 68 if the Government gets its way.
As The Sun revealed yesterday, the Chancellor is set to raise the retirement age to just two years shy of 70 as early as 2035, giving us one of the highest retirement ages in the world.
The change will affect anyone now aged 54 or under. And if recent trends are anything to go by, it is likely that the age people can start to claim their state pension will continue to rise even higher.
Long gone are the days of retiring at 60 while you are still physically able to get the most out of life.
It is no wonder the planned change has gone down badly among hard-working people, who quite rightly fear the onset of a “work till you drop” culture.
A poll on The Sun’s website yesterday saw an overwhelming backlash, with 86 per cent of those asked “Is the retirement age of 68 fair?” replying: “No.”
Just ten per cent thought it was the right move.
Even Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is said to be against bringing in a retirement age of 68 before at least 2042, arguing that predicted life expectancy rises have not materialised.
Indeed, according to Office for National Statistics figures, between 2018 and 2020 — the first period to include the higher death rates observed during Covid — life expectancy for males had FALLEN by seven weeks.
For women there was no change.
Increasing pension ages is always politically fraught. In France, more than a million hit the streets last week to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise their pension age from 62 to 64.
As one protester put it: “We worry that we’ll get old and ill before we’re able to stop work.”
On the face of it, it might seem reasonable to raise the retirement age when people are generally living longer.
Bringing in a UK retirement age of 68 by the end of the 2030s would raise billions in extra taxes and save billions in pension payouts.
That’s a win-win for the Chancellor’s coffers.
Even the ex-chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds, Alan Pickering, believes longer life expectancy has made the recently scrapped official retirement age of 65 “unworkable”, and has suggested people keep grafting until 70.
But living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living better.
Everyone knows the quality of life goes downhill even if we live longer.
Dying at 95 rather than 85 doesn’t necessarily give you ten more years of an active and fulfilling life.
For many, it could simply mean a decade of more health troubles.
I’m 26, so naturally when these stories emerge I wonder how long I will have to work.
Had I been born in 1950 I would have retired when I was 60.
When I retire, the age could likely be well over 70.
Or will advancements in science mean there are even more older people around, so it becomes more like 80?
There are a number of significant social problems that relate to an increasing pension age.
It will disproportionately affect working-class adults, who statistically have a shorter life expectancy than those in “higher managerial and professional occupations”, i.e. doctors, lawyers and IT project managers.
According to ONS stats, life expectancy for men in better-paid jobs is nine years longer, and for women it is nearly six years.
And not only that, but the professional-managerial class also have a greater ability to retire early through private pensions and accumulated assets such as homes and shares.
Many of these people will not need the state pension at all.
It is obviously unfair to force those in the least advantaged social classes to work for longer.
But more importantly, it does nothing to tackle the wider issues that are facing our welfare system.
Indeed, raising the state pension age is simply putting a plaster over an open wound.
It ignores one of the key issues this country is facing: How do we cope with and pay for people living longer?
The answer for most politicians starts and ends with “throw more cash at the NHS” — witness the now-aborted rise in National Insurance, specifically to pay for social care.
In order to properly deal with an ageing population, we must first properly deal with the healthcare system.
A root-and-branch overhaul is long overdue.
Yet how old will we all be when that happens?