Pension age 'may be raised to 68 sooner than feared'

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More people are likely to have to wait until they are 68 before they can claim their state pension under Government plans to speed up increases to the retirement age, it was reported today.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith suggested workers may have to accept quicker increases to the state pension age than previously planned as the Government works to tackle the budget deficit.

The previous government had set out plans to increase the state pension age to 66 by 2024 and to 68 by 2046.

The Conservatives said before the election that they would bring forward the increase in the age people can claim their state pension to 66 by 2016 and the Government is currently carrying out a review on the issue.

It has also indicated that it will raise the state pension age again to 67 between 2034 and 2036, leading to speculation that it could be increased further to 68 from 2038.

Mr Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: "We have to make the argument for it sooner. The truth is deferment of one year will add 1% to GDP and it will add up to 10% on your pension pot.

"The current plan to raise it to 68 ... we think could be accelerated. It seems silly to wait."

He has also suggested that the age at which people can claim their state pension could be indexed to rise in line with increases in life expectancy, as is the case in Denmark.

In 1950, shortly after the state pension age was set at 65 for men, men who reached this age were expected to live for an average of another 12 years, while women were expected to live for another 14.3 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But life expectancy has soared since then, and today the Department for Work and Pensions estimates a man who is 65 will live for a further 21 years, while women are expected to live for another 24 years.

These figures are expected to increase further by 2050, when it is likely a man who is already aged 65 will live for another 25 years and a woman will live for a further 28 years.

As a result, by 2050 people are likely to receive their state pension for twice as long as they did in the 1950s.

If the state pension age had risen in line with average life expectancy since 1926, people would now have to wait until they were 75 before they could claim it.

But any move to increase the state pension age further is likely to encounter fierce opposition from trade unions, who argue that it is unfair to expect manual workers in the industrial regions of the UK, who typically have lower life expectancy than professionals in more affluent areas, to work for longer.

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