Increasing state pension age means many Scots will never retire
Published on 19 August 2019 01:00 PM
A leading charity has criticised calls to raise the State Pension age to 75, saying this would have a devastating impact on Scotland’s poorest older people and massively increase poverty.
A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think-tank recommended raising the State Pension age to 70 by 2028 and to 75 by 2035 to help boost the UK economy. It claimed that the UK is "not responding to the needs and potential" of an ageing workforce, with hundreds of thousands of people aged 50-64 deemed "economically inactive".
Age Scotland welcomed plans to support older people who choose to stay in the workforce but said accelerating increases in the State Pension age was not the answer. This would have a disproportionate impact on poorer Scottish people, especially women, plunging hundreds of thousands more into poverty.
More than 170,000 Scottish older people are already living in poverty. Lower paid workers and women are less likely to have a private pension and rely solely on the State Pension.
Scotland’s life expectancy stalled this year after three decades of increasing, and is now 77.0 for men and 81.1 for women. However in Glasgow, it is only 73.3 for men (78.7 for women), meaning more than half of men would never reach State Pension age.
Healthy life expectancy is considerably lower, at 62.6 years for women and 62.3 for men in Scotland - around a year lower than the UK figures.
The Government has already announced plans to increase the State Pension age from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039, seven years earlier than previously planned.
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “Raising the State Pension age to 75 would be a retrograde step that would have a devastating impact on Scotland’s poorest older people. Lower paid workers and women are already less likely to have a private pension, meaning they rely solely on their State Pension to live on in retirement. Many are unable to work later due to health issues or caring responsibilities, and this would plunge hundreds of thousands more into poverty.
“Scotland’s life expectancy is lower than the UK average, meaning it will have a disproportionate impact. In many parts of the country, such as Glasgow, the average man would never reach the State Pension age of 75. Healthy life expectancy is considerably lower, with many workers finding it physically impossible to continue in their careers as they get older.
“Our State Pension is already one of the lowest in the developed world, and we need to see more support for older people, not less. Older people have paid into the system throughout their working lives, and should not spend their later lives living in poverty or struggling to work despite health problems.
“At the same time, we recognise that many people do already choose to work past the traditional retirement age, either due to choice or financial necessity. Many employers are missing out by not supporting older workers with career development, health support and flexible working arrangements.
“We’d encourage more employers to recognise the value of older workers and create strategies to better support them and the wider company. We’ve already helped more than 200 Scottish companies and 4500 people create more age-inclusive workplaces and plan for their future effectively.”
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Notes to editors:
The report by the Centre for Social Justice can be found here.