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Britain’s retirement age will have to rise to 71 by 2050, experts suggest

BRITAIN’S retirement age may have to rise to 71 by 2050, experts said today.

Researchers at the International Longevity Centre looked into the effect of growing life expectancy and falling birthrates on the state pension.

Their report suggests that anyone born after April 1970 may have to work until they are 71 before claiming their pension to maintain the same ratio of pensioners to workers. 

This is partly due to the number of workers exiting the workforce before the pension age, with preventable ill health becoming an increasing burden.

According to the research, only 50 per cent of adults in England and Wales currently can work by age 70.

Centre for Ageing Better director for work Dr Emily Andrews said: “In the coming decades, more people are likely to be in financial precarity as they approach retirement.

“Yet those in the worst financial position will be those who also face additional barriers to accessing employment such as a long-term health condition or a caring responsibility.”

Ms Andrews predicted that extending the state pension age for this group “will only extend the adversity and poverty they will face.”

National Pensioners Convention general secretary Jan Shortt said she was totally against any increase. She emphasised the need for urgent investment in NHS and care to help the 3.6 million people aged between 54 and 65 out of work because of long-term sickness.

She also pointed out that longevity is falling, so “depending where you live, you may not live long enough to claim your pension.”

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said further increases were unjustified “given the uncertainty over future life expectancy and the fact that people on low incomes and in poorer areas generally have appreciably shorter lives than their more fortunate counterparts in leafier places.”

She said: “Many less-advantaged people in their 50s are already worried about how they will manage in the years approaching state pension age, and having to wait even longer would be a big blow  — and a policy that runs completely counter to the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

“Some of today’s over-50s are either struggling to work or completely unable to do so due to ill health, caring responsibilities or ageism in the labour market, leaving them in a perilous position: reliant on benefits like universal credit or using up all the savings they had put by for their retirement. ”

The Office for National Statistics revealed last month that life expectancy had fallen by 38 weeks to 78.6 years for men, and 23 weeks to 82.6 years for women, following the pandemic.

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