Pensions sector professionals have been digesting the conclusion of John Cridland's report and his proposed changes to the state pension.
Baroness Altmann said it was ‘disappointing’ that he had decided against early access, saying: “People with shorter than average life expectancy generally still pay around a quarter of their salary in National Insurance. They may have worked for 50 years or more but may die before being eligible for any state pension - or may receive very little.
“This seems inequitable and their lower life expectancy is not recognised by our National Insurance rules. Normal insurance would usually charge lower premiums to such people but that does not happen. Therefore allowing early access could compensate for this even if for a reduced pension.”
The current system only helps those who are healthy and wealthy enough to work longer, she said.
She said: “If someone can work beyond state pension age, they can get a much larger pension but there is no help for people to get their state pension earlier if, for example, they started work exceptionally young, perhaps in tough industrial jobs, and genuinely cannot keep going till nearly 70.
“Cridland recommends some means-tested help just one year before State Pension age but I think moving away from just one ever-increasing age, would be more socially equitable. A band of starting ages, such as between 65 and 69 with adjusted payments would be fairer.”
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, agreed with her, saying: “We’re disappointed that the Cridland Review has rejected calls to extend the flexibilities people already enjoy with private pensions to state pensions. Requiring everyone to wait till an ever increasing age to draw a state pension is inflexible and increasingly outdated compared to today’s more flexible and personalised transition into retirement.
“This is a missed opportunity to meet the needs of those who through health concerns, job pressures or lack of employment opportunity simply can’t keep working into their late 60s. We call on the Government to keep the door open to future change.”
Jon Greer, pensions expert at Old Mutual Wealth, said: “The state pension age review adds further evidence to the inescapable statement of recent years: the current pension system is unsustainable.
“The report's recommendation to increase and speed up the state pension age will come as a blow to 30 and 40 year olds who will see their working lives stretch further in front of them. Increases in the state pension age came from both John Cridland and the Government's Actuary Department, and while the latter's recommendation of moving the SPA to 70 seems a bit severe, the move appears unavoidable.”
David Newman, head of pensions at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “We are living longer, healthier and wealthier lives, so proposals to raise the age of retirement have hardly come out of the blue. However, Cridland’s comments could further muddy the waters for those planning for retirement as yet again we are seeing changes to the state pension age, which affects people’s planning.”