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Charlie Duff

Sift Media

Editor, HRzone.co.uk

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Tory plans to raise retirement age

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Following a high court ruling the age of retirement could stay, the Conservatives have announced they would raise the state retirement age to 66 – for both men and women.

Although there are already plans to raise the retirement age, the present Government is not seeking to raise the age to 66 until 2026. The Conservatives announced at their party conference earlier this week that they would seek to bring this forward by ten years for men and six years for women.

Many people already work beyond state retirement age and with an increasingly older population it seems keeping the state pension age at 60 for women and 65 for men is unsustainable.

Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN – The Age and Employment Network, said: "The focus should be on encouragement and incentivising delayed retirement and any thoughts of accelerating the uplift of state pension age should be put back a long way until there has been a fundamental review of state pensions and restoration of the link with average earnings."

TAEN has argued for an end to cliff-edge retirement. Ball added: "State Pension Age should be an age of entitlement but people should be encouraged to defer retirement and continue working longer if they are able to or need to. They could then choose whether to draw their pensions at state pension age or later. If the gains from doing so were clear, many more would put off taking their state pension until their actual retirement dates. This would mean more taxation revenue, so it would benefit the economy."

For those who are expecting to be able to retire soon there could be hard choices if the Conservatives become the next government and implement the propsed policy. Those who do retire at the state retirement age often do so because of stressful working lives, injuries or caring responsibilities. Workplaces may find themselves having to support these workers more, when they didn’t expect to. HR may find itself having to redesign jobs to enable older workers to cope.

This could prove an opportunity, particularly if the Conservatives increase the value of the state pension, but whether this will be is the case is as yet unclear.

Meanwhile, there is widespread ignorance about pensions among employees and employers, according to new research from the CIPD. While 55% had joined a company pension scheme, only one in four (28%) knew how much they should be saving into it for a comfortable retirement. More than half (56%) were worried that they will not have enough.

Meanwhile many others had unrealistic ideas of how they were going to fund their retirement, with inheritance (19%) and property (21%) featuring highly in people’s plans even though, in most cases, the sums did not add up.

The survey also found that HR has a lot of work to do in convincing employers, who are often not clear about the business case for DC pensions. Few organisations offer detailed advice for employees on how much to save and that the level of employer contributions are often set by a ‘herd mentality’ of looking at the competition rather than any well-thought-out analysis. Smaller firms often only offer pensions for compliance purposes, the survey of 61 employers and 840 employees found.

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Charlie Duff

Editor, HRzone.co.uk

Read more from Charlie Duff
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