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State pension age could rise to 68 by ‘2040 or thereabouts’, says UK Work and Pensions Secretary

11 May 2023 4 minute read
UK Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride. Photo Jordan Pettitt PA Images

The UK Government’s Work and Pensions Secretary said the state pension age is not likely to be raised to 68 until the 2040s — but it is not a decision to be made by the current UK Government.

Mel Stride said there was “no reason why you need to take the decision now” on any change, having pledged to inform voters 10 years ahead of time.

A state pension age increase from 66 to 67 is set to occur between 2026 and 2028, a move which has been legislated for since 2014.

But Cabinet minister Mr Stride, in a statement to the Commons in March, chose to delay any consideration about increasing the state pension minimum age to 68.

Speaking at a political correspondents lunch in Westminster on Thursday, he said that, while the decision had been deferred until after the next general election — which is widely expected to take place next year — he anticipated the increase could happen in “2040 or thereabouts”.

An independent review by former Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general John Cridland in 2017 recommended the state pension age be raised to 68 in 2037-39, while a follow-up study by Baroness Neville-Rolfe this year said the timetable should be pushed back to 2041-43.

Life expectancy data

Mr Stride, asked when was the earliest he could envisage it being changed from 67 to 68, said: “I think it is fair to say that the earliest would be Cridland’s suggestion of 2037, but that was predicated on different life expectancy data.

“And in fact if you applied what we know now to Cridland’s methodology, you would end up with a date in the 2050s actually.

“Neville-Rolfe came in with something in the 2040s, so I suspect it is in that range of 2040 or thereabouts.

“But it will be for somebody else to sift through the data in the next Parliament.”

Mr Stride said Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) 50 year forecasts on the health of the economy showed that the cost of pensions was headed “in the wrong direction” due to Britain’s aging demographic.

The senior Conservative said the OBR data meant that there is a “point in time when the nettle will have to be grasped” on increasing the state pension age to 68 but that it did not have to be now.

Explaining his reasoning for delaying any decision to move it to 68, Mr Stride said he was influenced by statistics showing UK life expectancy growth may be slowing, among other factors.

Uncertainties

He said: “Ultimately, I took the decision that because of Covid, because of the uncertainties economically — because there are many metrics that play into this decision — and the fact the important thing is you give people, I feel, 10 years notice of any change.

“The kind of range of dates for the moving up of the state pension age from 67 to 68 are well into the 2030s.

“You are debating whether you are going to do it in the 2030s, 2040s or thereabouts.

“So there is no reason why you need to take the decision now. You can wait until the first couple of years of the next Parliament to take that decision and still give people 10 years’ notice of your decision and make the change at that point.”

Put to him that the scale of the protests seen in France after President Emmanuel Macron raised the minimum pension age from 62 to 64 might put future British ministers off the idea of raising it again at home, Mr Stride said he did not think it was “in our national psyche to start rioting and burning things over things like the state pension”.

He also said there were no plans to alter the triple lock on pensions — a policy that sees state pensions increase with inflation, wage rises or 2.5%, whichever is highest — but that he did not know what the position would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

He must have a crystal ball…

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

So the Tories and their rich friends can retire early, and the rest of society have to work hard for longer to keep them in the manner they are accustomed to!

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
9 months ago

People work far too hard and for far too long. We ought to be reducing the work week (I favour 3 x 7h days + 5h community work) and the qualifying age for a pension, not raising it. I started work at 9, and don’t plan to stop. I want to contribute. Freed from the strictures of working for others, people can develop their own good ideas, their expertise and their enterprise. Their partners and children would no doubt welcome their input too. An independent Cymru ought to be able to offer a more imaginative deal for working people than… Read more »

Mawkernewek
9 months ago

Mel Stride unwittingly admits that Tory rule has wiped out at least 13 years of progress in life expectancy by suggesting a change from 2037 to 2050s in when the state pension age should rise.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
9 months ago

It is my believe they in the end will do away with the state pension if they are in power

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

Only thing stopping them is the %age of pensioners that evidently vote for the robber barons at every GE.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago

68 may be an O.K pension age for hedge fund managers, sundry banksters, oil and gas bandits, and government policy advisors. They sit on their ar*es all day and don’t wear out unless they drop from stroke or some sedentary ailment. Men and women in the real world slog away often in difficult conditions but they will have no say in how they can get to enjoy a bit of post- employment life with some quality and decent income.

George Thomas
George Thomas
9 months ago

This appears unlikely. The UK is becoming less healthy – greater number of mental health conditions especially – with increasingly stretched health services to look after individuals. State Pension is a large part of the budget for UK benefits, true, but efforts to reduce what government is on the hook for won’t matter if they replace that percentage with increase of people claiming benefits for ill health. Every individual must know where we’re going now. Self care through education, exercise, looking after friends and potentially lonely neighbours is key. UK government is too sh*t and too corrupt to look after… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 months ago

What they really want to do is make us work until we’re 90 (if we’re lucky to get that far) and then euthanise us.

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