Debate: As the UK's aging population drains the public purse, should we raise the retirement age to 70?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

The Government is "woefully underprepared" for a demographic time bomb that will see the number over over 65s living in Britain leap by nearly five million in two decades, a House of Lords committee said today.

The peers warned that many people's savings and pensions will be inadequate and called on public and private sector employees to enable people to avoid "cliff-edge retirement" by working part-time or flexibly in their 60s and 70s

Case For: Productive

People in the UK can now expect to live to 80-years-old, according to the latest study. This limit is only expected to increase in the coming years and such an increase puts huge and unsustainable pressure on an already overstretched welfare system. We need to balance the economy in favour of productivity; and while the elderly continue to work for a living they will earn more, spend more and contribute more. Many - though by no means all - may also find continued employment, perhaps at a less strenuous level, a satisfying life choice.

Case Against: Unjust

Yes, average life expectancy is increasing, but like many other things in British life, the benefits of this are mostly felt by the wealthy. For the working poor, therefore, whose life expectancies have not substantially increased, and who are more likely to work in physically demanding roles,  raising the retirement age is a swiz. It means cheating them out of benefits to which they are entitled, while asking them to subsidise the longer retirements of the rich. Efficient means-testing is a far fairer way to tackle this problem.