Making people work for longer before they can collect their state pension will be detrimental to unpaid carers and low earners, a think-tank has claimed.
In a new report, the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) described government plans to raise the state pension age as a “blunt instrument” that has the potential to “exacerbate” social inequalities.
In 2019, the state pension age will gradually increase for both men and women until it reaches 66 in October 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028. The retirement age was previously 65 for men and 60 for women.
For disadvantaged workers, the extending working lives agenda is expected to lead to involuntary early labour market exit, due to greater health and care needs and caring responsibilities, the report warns.
Moreover, as the majority of domestic work and unpaid care work is undertaken by women, this threatens to create new gender inequalities as women struggle to reconcile longer working lives with caring responsibilities.
Research from ILC’s EXTEND project reveals that women with lower education levels in the UK may lose up to 25% of their monthly pension entitlements under the new system compared to before.
ILC has called for greater support of workers’ health and wellbeing through job and retirement flexibility, as well as support in the management of illnesses and caring responsibilities.
Senior research fellow Dr Brian Beach said: “There is a need for wider approaches to encourage work in later life beyond reforms to pensions, including measures to address health and wellbeing at work, to tackle age discrimination in the workplace, and to support those juggling work and caring.”
Alan Walker, a Sheffield University professor who contributed to the report said: “Our research shows that increasing pension age in line with life expectancy is a very blunt instrument that exacerbates inequality and particularly harms older women. If other EU countries can manage the demographic transition without these negative effects why can’t we?”