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Inequalities set to grow as those too sick to work lose out on state pensions

Tuesday 11th February 2014

A new report from ILC-UK argues that increasing the state pension age without taking into account the 18 year difference in healthy life expectancy across the UK, risks disadvantaging groups of older people.   
The report “Linking state pension age to longevity: Tackling the fairness challenge”, published as part of the Age UK Research Fellowship demonstrates that measures such as healthy life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy vary significantly by region and social class, and in consequence particular groups are more likely to be disadvantaged by a rise in the state pension age than others. 
The report also highlights how the disparity between life and healthy life expectancies may offset the perceived financial benefits of raising the state pension age.
Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive, ILC-UK, said: “As we live longer lives it appears to be a natural move to raise the state pension age. Yet as this research shows, we need to be very careful to ensure that increasing the state pension age doesn’t just result in an increase in the numbers of people out of work and ineligible for state pension. This report highlights that the highest social class are likely to live 13.4 years longer disability-free life than the lowest. Central and local Government must concentrate greater effort on tacking the causes of inequalities which result in such huge divergences in life expectancy”. 
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, added: "This research backs up what we've known for some time - that increasing the state pension age based purely on longevity will leave many people facing serious problems in later life. While it may seem reasonable to consider extending working lives as overall life expectancy increases, it will be especially tough on people with lower life expectancies – who are likely to be on lower incomes – who may end up with little or no time left in retirement to enjoy. Those who are unable to work longer due to ill health or caring responsibilities must be given the support they need, when they need it. 
"The current Pensions Bill going through parliament should oblige government to take into account a range of factors before they consider raising the state pension age, such as the difference in healthy life expectancy and varying employment opportunities for continued working in later life.”

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