In the first of a series of official assessments of the state pension age in the UK, former CBI boss John Cridland has also proposed that future increase in the entitlement age should be communicated better and should also take into account people who have lower life expectancy due to ill-health.
In his interim report ahead of the full version due to be published next year, Cridland said that ministers should look into allowing people who started work at an early age such as 16 or who work in physically taxing manual jobs to take their pensions at an earlier point.
This could be at the full rate or a reduced rate depending on how early the money was to be paid, Cridland added.
Reflecting changes in society
The review is designed to give the government a better idea of what changes to the pension system may be necessary to cope with rising life expectancy and stretched public finances.
The state pension age for both men and women is due to rise to 66 by 2020 and then to 68 by 2028: the current review concerns what happens after that point.
Cridland said: “The future of the state pension age is a hugely important issue for this country. It must be fair and sustainable, and reflect changes in society. My interim report provides an insight into my developing thinking and poses a number of questions.”
Dispelling pension myths
Effective communication a must
He added that any future changes must be communicated with the public effectively and as early as possible.
Ministers have come under sustained criticism in recent months for their perceived failure to make it clear to thousands of women born in the 1950s that they would not be able to retire, as many of them had expected, at age 60.
“Whatever recommendations I decide to make in my final report, they will be underpinned by the importance of effective communications about the state pension age,” Cridland said. “People need to be able to plan effectively for their own retirement.”
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Changes need proper planning
Paul Green, director of communications at Saga, said: "It's good news that people are living longer and more fulfilling lives, but longer life also has implications for public services and for taxpayers.
"Changes to the state pension age need to be driven by proper planning and not short term financial fixes. That’s why it is encouraging that John Cridland has kicked off this important debate with some excellent insight into the changing lives of an aging Britain.”
Green added: "We are particularly pleased to see the emphasis ensuring that any changes to the state pension age are communicated effectively. The government must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that, whatever changes it decides to make, people have the time to plan their retirement properly."
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