Working Yourself to Death
10th September 2019
Just in case you’re the one person in the UK who’s run out of things to be furious about, how about a change to the State Pension age that means the average Blackpool resident born between 2012-14 would never live to collect it?
What is the current pension age?
As things stand right now, the age at which you can start picking up your State Pension is set to rise to 67 by 2044. By 2046, it’ll have gone up again to 68. However, back in 2017, the government decided to speed things up a bit. Under their proposals, the State Pension age will hit 68 between 2037 and 2039 instead.
To many people looking forward to cashing in decades’ worth of National Insurance Contributions for a guaranteed income, that already sounds bad enough.
According to right-wing “think tank” the Centre for Social Justice, those proposals don’t go nearly far enough. The organisation, founded in 2004 by Iain Duncan Smith, Tim Montgomerie and Phillipa Stroud, believes we all need to be working until we’re at least 75 years old! To put that in perspective, that’s a year older than the average male life expectancy in Blackpool for people currently aged about 5-7.
What is the new proposed pension age?
The CSJ argues that we should shift the State Pension goalposts to 70 by 2028, then again to 75 by 2035.
Its reasoning is pretty basic. We’re living too long – or at least, many of us are staying healthy enough to work until later in life. According to the think tank, there are already hundreds of thousands of us aged between 50-64 who aren’t earning (or are “economically inactive”, to use their words). Older workers, they say, are being forced into retirement by employers who don’t value their experience enough to justify their wages. They talk about the financial and health-related “benefits” of work, and claim that removing the barriers older people are encountering would be a huge boost to public services.
Is the pension age going to change?
Not everyone shares the CSJ’s view on this, unsurprisingly. Some argue that raising the State Pension age so high and so fast would actually financially cripple a lot of older people. On top of that, the latest statistics show that there’s a pretty clear slowdown in the rise of life expectancy in the UK. It’s not clear yet whether that’s a short-term “blip” or the start of an actual downward trend, but it’s definitely something that can’t be ignored.
The key thing to remember about all of this is that, while it’s easy to see why a government would think hard about a big shift in the State Pension age, that doesn’t make it a sure thing. The CSJ’s suggestions are exactly that – suggestions.
The latest word from the DWP is that raising the eligible age to 68 should ensure the State Pension is “sustainable now and for future generations”. It might make good financial sense for the government to delay paying out on pensions, but even the most hard-nosed number-cruncher at HMRC understands that people will argue back in the voting booths.
If you are still working and currently claiming a pension at the same time, you may need to complete a self-assessment tax return. You can still claim a tax refund for work and travel in your current job if you're already a pension from a previous post, we'll handle all those calculations for you.