More than three million people in the West Midlands will be affected be forced to work longer thanks to plans to increase the state pension age to 68.
And the change has sparked a row. The Conservative government says its fairer, because we’re living longer than we used to.
But Labour says ordinary working people are paying the price of “austerity”.
What’s happening to our pensions?
Many people will have to wait years longer before they are allowed to collect the state pension.
The state pension used to be available for women at the age of 60 and men at the age of 65.
For both men and women, the state pension age will increase to reach 66 by 2020.
And it’s eventually due to increase to 68.
But a row has broken out after the Government said it was moving the increase to 68 forward.
What has the Government announced?
Under laws introduced by the last Labour government, the state pension age was due to increase to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
But in July, Pensions Secretary David Gauke announced plans to bring this timetable forward so that the state pension age increases to 68 between 2037 and 2039.
Labour points out that this means some people will have to wait longer before they are allowed to collect their pension.
In a sense, it means they lose money, because they will get less state pension during their lifetime.
Why has the Government done this?
David Gauke said it’s about making the system fair for everyone, including younger taxpayers.
He said: “I want Britain to be the best country in the world in which to grow old, where everyone enjoys the dignity and security they deserve in retirement.
“Since 1948 the state pension has been an important part of society, providing financial security to all in later life. As life expectancy continues to rise and the number of people in receipt of State Pension increases, we need to ensure that we have a fair and sustainable system that is reflective of modern life and protected for future generations.”
What does Labour say?
Labour appears now to oppose increase the state pension age to 68 at all.
And it says the Conservatives are forcing ordinary working people to work longer.
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Thanks to the Tories increasing the State Pension age, 36.9 million people will be forced to work longer, at the same time that evidence indicates life expectancy has stalled in some places and is reducing in others.
“Conservative MPs must explain to the tens of thousands of people in their constituencies, why the burden of Tory austerity is being pushed onto them, while corporations and the richest individuals receive tax breaks.”
What is Labour’s policy?
Under the last Labour government, the state pension age was due to increase to 68 by 2044.
Legislation to implement this was introduced in the Pensions Act 2007.
However, Labour’s policy now is less clear.
The party’s manifesto in the June general election stated that the party “rejects the Conservatives’ proposal to increase the state pension age” above 66, but it also said: “We will commission a new review of the pension age, specifically tasked with developing a flexible retirement policy to reflect both the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy, and the arduous conditions of some work.”
It’s not clear entirely what this means, but it seems to suggest Labour would have different pension ages for different people depending on their circumstances.
Does this mean I have to retire later?
Strictly speaking you can retire any time - if you can afford it.
And if you have a private pension then you can still collect that.
But in practice many working people are only able to retire once they are allowed to collect their state pension.
You can also work well past the age of 68 if you like.
The idea of a legal retirement age has been scrapped. Employers aren’t supposed to take your age into account at all.
How many people are affected?
Figures produced by the House of Commons Library show how many people will be hit by increasing the state pension age from 66 to 68.
|Birmingham, Hall Green||81,007|
|Birmingham, Hodge Hill||92,735|
|Birmingham, Perry Barr||72,486|
|Birmingham, Selly Oak||69,043|
|Coventry North East||80,193|
|Coventry North West||67,319|
|Halesowen and Rowley Regis||48,600|
|Hereford and South Herefordshire||51,686|
|Kenilworth and Southam||38,859|
|Shrewsbury and Atcham||52,864|
|Warwick and Leamington||59,889|
|West Bromwich East||54,133|
|West Bromwich West||57,947|
|Wolverhampton North East||53,933|
|Wolverhampton South East||54,864|
|Wolverhampton South West||48,515|