During Jeremy Hunt’s autumn budget the Conservative chancellor announced that he was bringing forward a review of the state pension age. The review is expected to report in early 2023.
Over the Christmas period , Unite revealed that the the government is failing to take account of workers being forced out of their profession due to ill health and injury, as it prepares to increase the state pension age.
The state pension is already set to increase over the next 25 years. The state pension age is currently 66 but under the government’s plans it is already set to increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and to 68 between 2044 and 2046.The review being carried out by Lucy Neville Rolfe is looking at whether it should accelerate these dates forward and/or increase the state pension age beyond 68 for younger workers.
Some commentators, notably Steve Webb, have argued that life-expectancy is not increasing as expected and that – since the pandemic, there has been an increased number of “excess deaths”. Weekly reports from the ONS and CMI confirm that the numbers of us dying has increased week by week in 2022.
ONS deaths data has been released for week ending 23 Dec.
2,982 more deaths were recorded in-week compared to the 2015-19 average. That’s 26% more, the largest excess we’ve seen all year.
Year-to-date there have been 567,379 deaths recorded which is 8% more than 2015-19 avg. pic.twitter.com/XXdulv4tTr
— stuart mcdonald (@ActuaryByDay) January 5, 2023
The counter argument is that the numbers of adults coming into the workforce is decreasing, partly because of fertility patterns (too few young people) and partly because of net emigration following Brexit.
A third factor, which Unite are right to highlight, is that many people who anticipated working to state pension age, aren’t. Instead we have seen around 800,000 people over the minimum retirement age (55) disappear not going to work or claiming benefits. It’s this group that the DWP want to prod into action with a mid-life MOT.
And if you just want the pictures rather than the words then here’s a long thread with most of them in it https://t.co/m1WevvgaEf
— Tony Wilson (@tonywilsonIES) February 15, 2022
It is worrying to find that the DWP still know very little about these people. Unite report that following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department for Work and Pensions , it has discovered that the government is failing to monitor or record the number of workers being forced to or choosing to leave their profession early.
The DWP replied:
“Following a search of our paper and electronic records, we have established that the information you requested is not held by this department.”
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said:
“This revelation will send a shudder through the UK workforce. The message being given out by the government is don’t get sick or injured.
“Too many workers in highly physically demanding jobs are already being forced out of work before the state pension age. Extending the date when workers become eligible for their pension will make the situation even worse.
“Even more workers will find themselves in a cruel limbo world where they are too sick to work but too young to receive their pension.”
Unite conclude, the lack of research will be particularly alarming to workers in sectors of the economy including construction, lorry driving and healthcare where due to the nature of their work they are frequently forced to leave the industry prior to the existing state retirement age, due to ill health and injury.
Perhaps a parliamentary question might be asked about whether the ageing non-workers are malingering – or simply knackered. The answer to that should have a material impact on Lucy Neville-Rolfe’s exam answer.