State pension overhaul unveiled

Posted on: 24 June 2010 by Mark O'haire

The Government has been accused of making people “work until they drop” under plans to increase the pension age.

Ian Duncan SmithIt came as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith provided more detail on plans to scrap the default retirement age which allows employers to get rid of staff when they reach the age of 65.

The state pension age for men is set to rise from 65 to 66 from 2016 - nearly a decade earlier than the last government was planning.

Ministers will raise the possibility of extending the pension age to 70 and even older in the following decades to "reinvigorate retirement".

Unions reacted with anger to the news, accusing the Government of showing its "class bias" just weeks after gaining power.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "The Government knows that manual workers in the industrial regions of the UK do not enjoy anything like the same life expectancy as professionals or other classes or employees. To force someone who has done a lifetime of toil on building sites, farms or in factories to work until they are 66 is completely unacceptable. What on earth are the Liberals doing in this coalition?"

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "As well as hitting pay, living standards, public services and jobs, the latest assault from the Government is work until you drop. If you are a rich banker with a private pension you can sail off on your yacht at 55, but for working men and women retirement will be pushed further and further over the horizon in a step back to the days of Dickens. That is not sharing the pain, it is hitting the poorest hardest yet again."

Mr Duncan Smith said: "People are living longer and healthier lives than ever, and the last thing we want is to lose their skills and experience from the workplace due to an arbitrary age limit.

"Now is absolutely the right time to live up to our responsibility to reform our outdated pension system and to take action where the previous government failed to do so." He added: "If Britain is to have a stable, affordable pension system, people need to work longer, but we will reward their hard work with a decent state pension that will enable them to enjoy quality of life in their retirement."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government is "reinvigorating what retirement means", telling BBC Breakfast that the idea of having an increase of one year has been accepted, and it is just a question of when it is brought in. "At some point we need to take this leap," he said.

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