Labour embarks on national ‘state pension tour’

Hannah Godfrey writes

The Labour party has launched a national ‘state pension tour’, which will see shadow secretary for work and pensions Debbie Abrahams visit groups and individuals across the UK to discuss the future of retirement.

The tour comes in the wake of the Conservative party’s confirmation it will implement changes to the state pension age outlined in the Cridland report, which will see it rise to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

The Department for Work and Pensions said life expectancy had increased from the introduction of the state pensions in 1948, when a retiree could expect to spend 13.5 years in receipt of it, to expecting to live 22.8 years in full receipt of the state pension today.

Labour meanwhile has calculated 56,547 under-48 year-olds living in Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead, 59,290 in David Gauke’s constituency of South West Hertfordshire and 61,753 in Philip Hammond’s constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge will be affected by the change.

Abrahams said: “Thanks to the Tories increasing the state pension age, 36.9 million people will be forced to work longer, at the same time that evidence indicates life expectancy has stalled in some places and is reducing in others.

“Conservative MPs must explain to the tens of thousands of people in their constituencies why the burden of Tory austerity is being pushed onto them, while corporations and the richest individuals receive tax breaks.”

She added: “Labour will keep the state pension age at 66 and this tour will help us review, as part of our commitment to people-powered politics, the pension system, with a view to guaranteeing a secure and healthy retirement for the many, not just the few.”

‘Hefty pinch of salt’

Old Mutual Wealth head of retirement Jon Greer suggested Labour’s argument had “holes”, pointing out the party had yet to outline costed workable proposals. “Until they do their words should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt,” he added.

“If Labour commit to keeping the state pension age at 66 and also hold the triple lock in place, which they promised in their manifesto, then pension costs will continue to rise at an unsustainable level.”

Pointing to John Cridland’s review of the state pension age, Greer said it projected that over the next 20 years annual state pension spending was set to rise by an extra 1% of GDP – from 5.2% in 2016/17 to 6.2% in 2036/37.

“This is equivalent to an increase in taxation of £725 per household per year,” he said. “While keeping the state pension age where it is would be great news to millions, the onus is still on Labour to prove how it would make such a decision possible.”