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Aug 16

A pragmatic approach to pensions

Tory government plans will take £10,000 from 7.6 million people’s state pensions as it asks millions of people to work longer to pay for failing economic policies.WASPI2

The Tories want to bring forward their plans to increase the state pension age more quickly to the age of 68.

Labour wants to take a measured approach to retirement, leaving the state pension age at 66 while the evidence emerging around life expectancy is carefully reviewed and analysed. In that way we can plan together how to protect those doing the most demanding physical jobs from having to work until they drop while properly protecting the nation’s finances.

The government says it will implement the Cridland Review recommendations on increasing the state pension age despite new evidence on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy which shows a significant departure from expected trends.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a leading expert, says that a century-long rise in life expectancy was ‘pretty close to having ground to a halt’ since 2010, pointing to this government’s failing austerity programme as a critical factor in this change.

Public Health England’s latest figures show the average Healthy Life Expectancy of men at 63 and of women at 64 years of age. The report also shows wide regional discrepancies and a clear North-South divide reflecting the government’s failure to rebalance the economy, tackle labour market inequalities and to ensure the social security system not only always makes work pay, but that it is fit for purpose in an increasingly flexible labour market.

You can see my response to the premature deaths of people in the North on Channel Four News here.

Bringing forward further increases to the state pension age will mean that many people experience ill health long before they have the chance to retire.

Poor communication of a later state pension age has already led to the terrible mismanagement of the state pension for women born in the 1950s – the WASPI women – which has left hundreds of thousands of women vulnerable with a longer wait for their state pension. It is an issue I raised during the General Election campaign and one we can’t allow to be repeated for other groups of people.

That’s why Labour wants to take a pragmatic approach, based on the best available evidence, and will leave the state pension age at 66 while plans are developed to ensure that everyone has the best chance to enjoy a secure and healthy retirement.