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State Pension age review

Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Looks at the timetable for increasing the State Pension age and the review set up to look at how it should increase in the longer term

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From the 1940s until April 2010, the State Pension age (SPA) was 60 for women and 65 for men. Legislation to increase the SPA was introduced in three stages:

  • The Pensions Act 1995 included provision to increase the SPA for women from 60 to 65 in stages between April 2010 and 2020, to bring it into line with that for men.
  • The Pensions Act 2007 made provision to increase the SPA from 66 to 68 in stages over the period 2024 to 2046.
  • The timetable set in these Acts has changed. The Pensions Act 2011 brought forward the increase in women’s SPA to 65 to November 2018, at which point the equalised SPA will start to rise to 66, which it will reach in October 2020. The Pensions Act 2014  (s26) brought forward the increase to 67 to between 2026 and 2028.

To ensure further revisions in life expectancy were taken into account in a timely and transparent way, the Coalition Government for periodic reviews of the SPA, based around the principle that people should maintain a specific proportion of adult life receiving the state pension. The reviews would be informed by a report from an independently-led body on wider factors such as variations in life expectancy and would seek to provide a minimum of ten years’ notice to people affected. The first such review must be published by 7 May 2017 (Cm 8528, Chapter 6; Pensions Act 2014  s27 ).

On 1 March 2016, the Government announced John Cridland as the independent lead for the first review of the SPA (HCWS 563, 1 March 2016, c39WS).

Following an interim report in October 2016, John Cridland published a final report in March 2017, recommending that:

  • The SPA should rise to age 68 over the two year period 2037 to 2039;
  • The SPA should not increase more than one year in any ten year period, assuming that there are no exceptional changes to the data;
  • If additional savings are needed, the triple lock should be withdrawn in the next Parliament.

To mitigate the impact of a higher SPA on disadvantaged groups, it recommended that:

  • the main means-tested benefit for pensioners is set one year below SPA, from the point at which SPA increases to 68, for people who are unable to work through ill health or because of caring responsibilities;
  • the conditionality under Universal Credit should be adjusted for people approaching SPA. This should be included in the design of Universal Credit as it evolves currently. This should be in place, at the latest, by the point at which SPA rises to 68.

At the same time, the Government Actuary’s Department published a report looking at two alternative scenarios - reflecting receipt of the State Pension for either 32% or 33.3% of projected adult life in retirement.

On 24 March, the Government said it would consider both reports before presenting its review of the SPA to Parliament by 7 May 2017 (HCWS552, 24 March 2017; Pensions Act 2014  s27 (1)).  However on 28 April, a DWP spokesperson said this would take place after the General Election on 8 June (UK ministers delay response on state pension age, Financial Times, 28 April 2017 (£)).

The background is discussed in more detail in Library Standard Note SN 2234 State Pension age - background (May 2012). The debate around the increases in the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s is discussed in SN-07405 (February 2017) and the triple lock in CBP 7812 (February 2017).

Commons Briefing papers SN06546

Author: Djuna Thurley

Topic: Pensions

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