State Pension age currently sits at 66, but is scheduled to be increased further in the coming years as life expectancy increases in the UK. Traditionally at 60 for women and 65 for men, changes in recent years occurred until gender parity was reached in November 2018, and the state pension age has been gradually increasing ever since. But a petition disagreed with these changes, calling for a reversal, and for the Government to bring the retirement age down to 63.
One Express.co.uk reader insisted: “It’s time to lower the state pension age and not keep increasing it.
“If you are an office worker you can work to 70 years of age with no problems.
“But manual and skilled workers such as electricians would struggle to do their job at that age.”
Another said: “This would definitely free up jobs for younger people, as well.”
While a third wrote: “Wishful thinking, but it should definitely happen.”
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However, others were resistant to some of the ideas raised within the petition, with four percent of respondents saying the age should remain where it is.
Many readers took issue with the posited idea within the petition that early retirees would be able to look after grandchildren.
One reader wrote: “What if we don’t want to look after grandchildren full time? Why leave a full time paid job to work as a free childminder? No, thank you.”
And another penned: “Shouldn’t grandparents be able to enjoy their free time? They’ve already had their childrearing years.
“They now should be able to have some ME TIME!”
However, there was a diversity of opinion amongst Express.co.uk readers, with some hitting back at the idea of any lowering to the state pension at all – and one percent of respondents suggested a rise was necessary.
One person instead asserted the state pension age should rise to 70 as soon as possible, saying: “The bone idle could not care less about working.”
While another person stated: “No, no, no. I am 77 and there is no way the retirement age should be lowered.
“We are living longer, so we need to pay in longer. And women who live longer than men should not retire earlier, you wanted equality – you should get it!”
Although many readers answering the poll said they would want to see a reduction to the state pension age, there are clearly a wide range of opinions.
While it appears the Government is moving in the opposite direction, experts have explored the idea of reducing the age.
Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, said: “The state pension is the bedrock of many people’s income in retirement. As the current debate around the state pension triple lock has shown, it’s also hugely expensive for the Government to provide.
“This is why with people generally living longer, the state pension age is gradually being increased to avoid further increases in the costs, which are met from the National Insurance contributions of those of working age.
“But the older the state pension age is, the more difficult it will be for some in stressful or manual occupations to keep working until state pension age.
“There is a case for Government to explore allowing people to choose to take their state pension from an earlier age, perhaps 63, but at a reduced amount to reflect the fact it is starting earlier and will be paid for longer. Offering early access at a reduced level could be a big help to many thousands. It’s already possible to defer taking state pension in return for an increased weekly amount.”
Mr Cameron also made reference to the private pension space, where newer pension freedoms rules have provided flexibility to older people.
From the age of 55, individuals will be able to start drawing from their defined contribution pension, meaning they can have more control over their finances. But this is something which is not mirrored in the state pension, where there is currently no ability to take it early.
Changes, Mr Cameron said, would not be without challenges, concluding: “There would need to be a way of making sure people don’t end up with an income from state and private pensions below the means tested benefit level.
“Some checks and balances might be required but with some creative thinking, this issue shouldn’t be insurmountable and would be well worth the prize if it helps people with their transition into retirement.”
Previously, a DWP spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality. Raising state pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.”