Fall in life expectancy hits plan to raise UK pension age

Fall in life expectancy hits plan to raise UK pension age

Plans to increase the UK pension age have reportedly been put on hold as life expectancy slides, it is being reported.

The state pension age has already risen to 66, will rise again to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and was earmarked to become 68 from 2044.

Ministers feared a backlash from voters if they made a decision on pension ages — requiring people to work longer — so soon after abolishing the pensions cap — a tax break aimed at high earners — in the March budget.

They have now decided to delay the retirement age decision until after the next general election, the Financial Times and Telegraph reported.

“They were gung-ho to raise the pension age. But they got cold feet,” the papers quoted one government insider as saying.

Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister, said: “The improvement in life expectancy at retirement that was predicted at the time of the last [pension age] review, basically didn’t happen. Life expectancy at retirement now is two years shorter than it was when they did the last review.”

The state pension bill is on course to grow to about £148 billion by 2027-2028 from £110 billion in 2022-2023, the Office for Budget Responsibility says.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The government is required by law to regularly review the state pension age and the next review will be published by May 7.”

In the first decade of the century, there were improvements for men of between 42 weeks and 53 weeks, and improvements for women of between 29 weeks and 42 weeks, when comparing life expectancy at birth in one three-year period with the previous non-overlapping three-year period, figures from the Office for National Statistics show (ONS).

Those improvements in life expectancy at birth have slowed.

Since 2010 to 2012, the improvements have generally been declining for males and females, with the exception of 2017 to 2019 when improvements increased slightly.

Life expectancy in the UK has also slipped down the global rankings.

The UK came in at 29th in 2021, according to the new analysis, which was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

It found that, over seven decades, the UK has done worse than all G7 countries except the US.

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