Chancellor accused of celebrating pension pain that will force millions to work until they drop
- Campaigners accuse the Chancellor of 'living in a fantasy land'
- He said that raising the state pension age was one of the least controversial things the government had done
Campaigners accused the Chancellor of ‘living in a fantasy land’ after he said that raising the state pension age, forcing millions to delay their retirement was one of the least controversial things the government had done.
Pensioners’ groups said the comments were insensitive to hard-working Britons who were being forced to work well into their 60s as a result of the State pension age increases.
Speaking at the Global Investment Conference in London, Mr Osborne admitted he is delighted with the money saved by the move, which particularly penalises women.
But he did not express any regret over the fact that millions of Britons had been hit with repeated increases in the age at which they can retire.
Mr Osborne said: ‘The savings dwarf almost everything else you do. They are absolutely enormous savings.
‘I found it actually one of the less controversial things we have done, and yet probably has saved more money than anything else we have done.’
Official figures reveal the saving from increasing the State pension age to 67 is more than £100billion.
It represents a financial hit for millions of Britons who face a long wait before they get a single penny from their State pension.
Mr Osborne also courted controversy by appearing to agree with one delegate who suggested the State pension age should be increased ‘by six months a year for the next 20 years'.
This would be equal to an explosive 10-year hike, which could raise the State pension age from 67 to 77.
Mr Osborne said he ‘agreed with the premise of the question’, adding: ‘Tackling entitlement costs and the costs of an ageing society is a real challenge for Western democratic societies.’
Neil Duncan-Jordan, from the National Pensioners’ Convention said: ‘I think George Osborne is living in a fantasy land.
‘Politicians can work way beyond their mid-60s and they have got a home for them called the House of Lords.
‘You compare that lifestyle with people who have worked all their life doing manual labour on low pay in a care home or digging up the roads.
‘And then ask them to keep on going. It is just not right.’
Since 1948, women have been entitled to get their State pension from the age of 60 until the rules were changed three years ago. A man can claim his State pension at the age of 65.
The coalition Government has ripped up the timetable, forcing people to work for far longer before they are entitled to finally start claiming their pension.
Women’s State pension age is currently being increased every few months, reaching 65 in 2018. It will then rise for both men and women to 66 in 2020, jumping again to 67 by 2028 and will continue to rise.
The Government will review the State pension age every five years, and has promised to give a minimum of ten years’ notice before any change is introduced.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of the charity Age UK, said: ‘For some people working longer is a positive experience and provides an opportunity to increase savings for retirement.
‘However, others find it difficult to remain in the workforce because of caring responsibilities or health problems, yet are compelled to try to continue working for financial reasons.’
Mr Osborne’s express of delight at the money that is being saved suggests the Treasury will be keen for it to rise as fast as possible.
The State pension age increases, which Labour had also revealed plans to implement but the coalition Government sped up, is already having a dramatic impact.
Nearly 30,000 women in their 60s have been forced to keep on working due to the Government’s increase in the State pension age, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said recently.
Half of women aged 60 are working, the first time in history that the employment rate of women in this age group has tipped over the 50 per cent mark.
Dr Ros Altmann, a leading independent pension expert, said: ‘Many of those worst affected by the delay in State pension age are already ill or caring for others and have taken early retirement.
‘They cannot now go back to work so delaying taking their State pension even further is not a realistic option for them.
‘They had made financial plans to cover themselves up to the old State pension age but that goalpost was then moved after they retired or became ill.’