Our responses to Pensions Bill and DRA announcement
Published on 13 January 2011 12:00 PM
In response to the publication of the Pensions Bill and separate announcement on the phasing out of the Default Retirement Age, Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director, said:
'Today brings good news and bad news for older people: the phasing out of the default retirement age is good news for those that want to continue working past 65, but plans to increase the state pension age quicker than planned is bad news for the millions of older people, particularly the very poorest, who are unable to work for longer.'
On the phasing out of the Default Retirement Age
'The announcement that the Default Retirement Age will be scrapped this year with no further delays is great news for hundreds of thousands of older workers who could have seen their working lives abruptly ended by forced retirement. The Government deserves credit for sticking to its commitment to abolish this unfair legislation which stamps an arbitrary expiry date on the careers of many older employees and undermines their working rights.
'With people living longer and healthier lives retirement patterns are changing rapidly and employment regulations need to be brought in line with workers' legitimate aspirations. Scrapping forced retirement is a very good start, but to lay the foundations of an age-friendly job market the Government also needs to tackle ageism in the workplace and offer more flexibility for older workers.'
On the Pensions Bill - increasing State Pension Age
'This Pensions Bill seeks to cut short the retirements of almost five million people by speeding up the planned rise in women's state pension age to 65 and bringing forward the increase to 66, six years earlier than planned by the previous government. Women will be hard hit by this change of policy, seeing their state pension age rise by six years between 2010 and 2020 compared to just one year for men. By pushing ahead with these plans, the government is breaking the promise it made in the coalition agreement not to start increasing state pension age to 66 for women before 2020.
'The poorest will be hardest hit by increases in state pension age as they are generally more reliant on their state pension and have lower life expectancy. Pensioner poverty in this country continues to be shamefully high yet this Bill fails to address the fundamental problems with our over-complicated and measly state pension system. Any changes to the state pension age must be part of a more coherent government strategy to narrow health inequalities and end pensioner poverty once and for all. Further reform is needed which ensures a higher state pension and a simpler system.'
On the Pensions Bill - automatic enrolment into workplace pensions
'Auto-enrolment is a hugely important reform which means that for the first time, all workers will have the right to a pension contribution from their employer unless they decide to opt out of the scheme. While we have some concerns about the increase in the threshold and the introduction of a waiting period, we are pleased that there will be no exemption for small firms.
'It is essential that the government now invests in providing good quality information and advice to help people understand the new options available to them and make informed decisions about saving for retirement. The benefits of long-term saving must be better communicated by the government if we are to avoid a future pensions crisis.'
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Notes to Editors
Age UK works in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI. For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
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