The Daily Telegraph
From today, the state pension age is 66 for both men and women. When it was introduced by Lloyd George in 1909, the state pension offered an initial payment of five shillings (7s 6d for a married man) to all retired workers over 70 whose annual means were below £31 10s. Very few reached that age and did not live long if they did. So the scheme was just about affordable, though it was always assumed that it would be supplemented by savings. Gradually the age was lowered to 65 for men and then to 60 for women.
Plans to equalise the age were first announced in 1995 but are only fully taking effect now, such is the power of the issue to trigger political ructions. Indeed, state pension and retirement dates have been fought over for decades, even as it has become increasingly apparent that the system is no longer affordable. Nowadays, some 12 million people are aged 65 and over. Average life expectancy at retirement is 20 years. The reason why the pension age has been increased – it will go up again to 67 by 2028 – is the cost and its burden on working-age taxpayers.
No one pretends, any more than they did in 1909, that the state pension is sufficient to live on, especially if care is needed, and yet successive governments have tried to give that impression with increases such as the “triple lock”. How long can that last? Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, reportedly wants to axe the guarantee, to get the public finances back on an even keel. As he told the virtual Tory conference yesterday, he considered it a sacred responsibility to future generations to balance the books. But it is also a political hot potato and the Conservatives promised to keep it. So it seems safe, for now at least.