Author Archives: ageukpublicaffairs

Missing out under new pensions rules

Pound coinsMargaret (not her real name) has been married for over 30 years. She worked part-time for many years but this work was low paid, and only during teaching terms, so she never built up her record of NI contributions.

During periods of unemployment Margaret did not claim benefits (and therefore credits which would have counted towards her NI record) because her husband was working. Margaret gave up work to look after her husband when he became chronically ill to help him remain working for as long as possible.

They felt they could manage without claiming carer’s benefits (which again would have protected her NI record), but when he did eventually have to give up work as his condition worsened they made sure that he claimed incapacity benefit, purely so that his NI contributions—and therefore, they thought, Margaret’s pension—would be protected.

Margaret’s husband will reach pension age under the present system, with a full contribution record, which they were always promised would also cover Margaret. However at 59 Margaret finds that the pension she had relied upon will no longer exist.

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Ever receding retirement?

This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs. 

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The big headline in today’s autumn statement was the Chancellor’s announcement to increase state pension age. George Osborne said that state pension age would be set following a general principle by which people could expect to spend a third of their adult life in retirement. He declared that state pension age needs to keep up with life expectancy. On current assumptions, this would mean an increase to 68 in the mid 2030’s and 69 by the mid 2040’s. This follows a number of increases to State Pension Age in the last three Pensions Acts, the most recent of which speeded up equalisation so that women’s State Pension Age will increase to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018 and then to 66 for both men and women between December 2018 and October 2020. The current bill going through parliament proposes an increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

We have two broad concerns with this pronouncement. Firstly life expectancy figures on their own do not tell the whole story. Whilst life expectancy at birth (in England) for men is 83 the life expectancy gap – the gap between the highest and lowest life expectancy estimates by local authority is almost 9 years. The picture looks even worse when you examine healthy life expectancy which is only 64. And the male healthy life expectancy gap by local authority is over 15 years with Richmond at one of the scale where it is just over 70 compared to Manchester where it is just 55. Continue reading

A fair state pension for all?

This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs.

Every few years the government announces its intention to fundamentally reform the pension system once and for all to ensure it is fair and sustainable for current and future generations. Each of these attempts is made with good 200x160_moneyintentions and with the hope that the changes will last. However a few years down the line the next government decides it’s time to try again. I’m already working on my fourth pension bill since beginning work for Age UK.

Successive governments are compelled to grapple with the pensions system to catch up with societal changes such as increases in life expectancy, changes in working patterns and to counter structural unfairness. For example several of the state pension reforms in the 2007 Pensions Act sought to ensure that the pension system better reflected the lives of women who often have some time out of employment caring for children, older family members, or working part time.

The compelling reasons for reform under the current proposals were to create a system which is intended to be fairer, simpler and more sustainable. Under the single tier system individuals will receive a state pension based on their own contribution record of up to £146 in today’s money if they have a full record of 35 years contributions. Continue reading

Party conferences 2013

This blog was contributed by Angela Kitching and Hannah Pearce, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s September already and that in a couple of weeks’ time the party conference season will be upon us again. After an unusually sunny summer and a rather sombre silly season political discussion will soon restart at Westminster and then around the country in Glasgow (Lib Dems), Brighton (Labour) and Manchester (Conservatives).

The party conferences always provide a useful opportunity for formal and informal discussions with politicians, party members, businesses, unions and other charities to discuss both their priorities and ours for the legislative session ahead. This year the looming presence of the general election will be felt, still 18 months away and a long way off in political terms but not such a long time for policy development and decisions on spending priorities. Age UK constantly engages with the political parties to highlight the needs and experiences of older people but the party conferences remain a particularly useful occasion. Continue reading