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LABOUR and a pensioners’ rights group slammed a think tank headed by former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday for suggesting that the state pension age (SPA) be raised to 75.
The Centre of Social Justice (CSJ) released the report yesterday suggesting that the government speeds up the increase in SPA to 70 by 2028 and to 75 by 2035 to “help boost the UK economy.”
The change would hit hundreds of thousands of people currently aged 50 to 64. Mr Duncan Smith was the architect of hated welfare reforms including the bedroom tax and universal credit — the latter originally a CSJ proposal.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell condemned the think tank for wanting to have people work “until they drop.”
Glasgow North East Labour MP Paul Sweeney said the idea is “despicable” as data shows life expectancy in Britain is in decline for the first time since records began in 1982.
He said: “In Glasgow, average male life expectancy is 73, and 78 for females. What is the Tory plan to address this? Raise the state pension age to 75.”
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon called for a general election so that people can “reject this at the ballot box.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that a possible general election this autumn will be a “once-in-a-generation chance to change direction” on the Tories’ “failure on Brexit” as well as “years of elite-driven austerity and neglect.”
He said: “While Brexit is the framework of the crisis we face, the problems facing our country run much deeper … things cannot go on as they were before.”
The CSJ’s report, Ageing Confidently: Supporting an ageing workforce claims that working into your 70s would prevent “state dependence, social marginalisation and personal destitution.”
Jan Shortt, of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), told the Star that the policy would be detrimental to vulnerable groups and those who have had physically demanding or insecure jobs.
She said: “Some individuals at 70 would elect to remain in work as it suits them. However, for other individuals who are not so fit and healthy, forcing them to stay in work is not an option.
“For many, work has made them ill or disabled. If they are unable to fulfil their job role, very often the employer has no option but to let them go on capability grounds or redundancy.
“We already know that the largest age group of unemployed is those over 65 – and they are too young to claim their state pension, and deemed too old by many employers for a job.
“Many will not have an occupational pension to rely on whilst they are waiting to qualify for their state pension.
“They are on the merry-go-round of claiming universal credit and having to go through hoops to prove they are looking for work. This is not how a society should act in the 21st century.”
She warned that making people work longer would have the potential to make individuals “less able to hold down employment.”
The proposal would make things worse for younger generations, as changes made in 2016 already require them to work longer while paying more in national insurance (NI) contributions until they reach pension age, Ms Shortt also said.
Retirees currently receive £168.60 per week in state pension after paying NI contributions for a minimum of 35 years.
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