More State Pension Age Rises Will Hurt my Constituents, Minister Warns

Continually increasing the state pension age beyond the government's existing timetable would negatively affect Blackpool residents, MP Paul Maynard says

Ollie Smith 8 February, 2024 | 11:51AM
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Paul Maynard UK Main

Continually increasing the state pension age (SPA) beyond the government's existing legislative timetable will have a real-world impact upon poorer citizens who may stand no chance of reaching retirement, the pensions minister has warned.

Speaking at an event run by Leith-based financial consultancy firm The Lang Cat in London, Paul Maynard, who is MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys and parliamentary undersecretary at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), was asked about a new report from the International Longevity Centre. It had argued in favour of increasing the SPA to 71 to ensure state retirement benefits are properly funded.

"In the UK state pension age would need to be 70 or 71 compared with 66 now to maintain the status quo of the constant number of workers per state pensioner," the ILC said.

But in conversation with Tom McPhail, The Lang Cat's director of public affairs, Maynard said that, while he had not yet read the report in full, he was cautious about implementing its recommendations because of his own constituents.

"Every report gets printed out for my weekend box and there's about five going in it this weekend so I haven't read it in great detail yet," he said.

"But what I have seen – what struck me was – it was looking particularly at the old age dependency ratio [and] on what that needed to be in order to fulfil their own view of what is financially sustainable.

"I think that there are parts of my constituency – I don't know if people have ever been to Blackpool to visit the seafront and the tower. You go 50 yards back, you are in the poorest ward in the country. The ward I represent in Claremont has a healthy life expectancy for men of 53. So people my age are dropping out of the workforce.

"I’m conscious that merely upping and upping the state pension age might not always be the right answer, and I know we need to look at how Covid-19 has impacted as well, and the patterns of life expectancy, before we start making ambitious discussions about what happens next".

State Pension Age Set to Rise

SPA is currently 66, and is set to rise to 67 by March 2028 and 68 by 2046. However, SPA rises have been an almost-continual topic of discussion in the wake of the government's state pension "equalisation" policy of 2016, and the repeated reminders thereafter of stretched government finances and the cost of pandemic support.

Last year the DWP announced the results of its latest independent review of SPA, concluding it would not launch further legislative changes. But a new review in 2026 will look at census data and analysis of the impact of the pandemic on life expectancy.

"Obviously when the government commissions its independent review of the state pension age it looks at a slightly wider range of considerations, including changes in life expectancy and indeed wider workforce changes," Maynard said.

"I think we need to deliver what we’ve agreed upon, but I think – and I know from the inbox I’ve seen overnight – comments like the ones in that report do genuinely concern people out in the real world, who think 'oh God, can I really work until 71?'"

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Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK

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