Age plan

Treasury would lose £60bn by state pension delay

Pension ages may not be delayed, but at some cost to the government’s revenue

Delaying the increase in the state pension age from 67 to 68 by seven years would cost the UK government more than £60 billion, according to a key think tank.

Reports suggest that the government will no longer increase the state pension age from age 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039, as had previously been announced in 2017.

The latest suggestion is that it would instead rise between 2044 and 2046.

In a report, published today, researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies says the delay would mean about 1 in 10 people would retire at age 67 rather than 68 between 2037 and 2044.

Delaying the increase would cost the Exchequer £8-9bn for each year that it is delayed. This means a seven-year delay would certainly cost the government more than £50bn over the seven years, and more likely more than £60bn, says the IFS.

Most of this is simply due to paying the state pension for longer.

On the other hand, income poverty rates among 65 year olds more than doubled, rising from 10% to 24%, when the state pension age was raised from 65 to 66.

The IFS says the government should consider what additional support should be provided to those on lower incomes, and those in poor health, in their mid 60s when the state pension age increases further.

For people born in any given year, life expectancy has fallen, particularly in the most recent set of projections by the Office for National Statistics.

For example, a man born in 1971 (and who turned 50 in 2021) is now expected to live to 83.9. In 2016, which is the information used in the first independent review of the state pension age, ONS forecast his life expectancy at age 50 to be 85.6. The equivalent life expectancies at age 50 for a woman born in 1971 was 88.1 back in 2016, but is now only 86.7.

“These falls in life expectancy certainly provides a rationale for not increasing it as swiftly as previously intended,” says the IFS.

“However, it is still the case that life expectancies are rising when comparing people born more recently with those born in earlier generations.

Even with a rise in the state pension age to 68, a man born in 1980 (who makes it to age 50) would expect to receive a state pension for 17 years, the same as for a man born in 1950 (who had a state pension age of 65).

Equalisation of state pension ages for men and women has meant a bigger rise in the female state pension age, but a woman born in 1980 (who makes it to 50) facing a state pension age of 68 could still expect to receive the state pension for 20 years.

Jonathan Cribb, an sssociate director at the IFS, said, “Men and women born more recently are expected to live longer than their predecessors.

“That in itself is a strong rationale for a gradually increasing state pension age.

“On the other hand, higher mortality rates in recent years mean that any given generation is expected to live less long now than was expected at the time of the last pension age review in 2016.

“This provides a justification for delaying the rise in the state pension age from 67 to 68 that was previously planned for the late 2030s. But to do so would cost money.

“There are significant long-term fiscal challenges coming from the ageing population and delaying the rise in the state pension age will cost the Exchequer around £8-9bn for each year of delay.”

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