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“Fundamental rethink” on State Pension ages needed as new life expectancy estimates show further deterioration, according to LCP’s Steve Webb

Photo of Steve Webb.

New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics provide further evidence that the DWP will have to ‘rethink’ its plans to continue with rapid increases in state pension age, according to Steve Webb (pictured), partner at consultants LCP.

State Pension Age (SPA) is currently 66 for both men and women.  Under current plans it will rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028. Existing legislation indicates a further rise to 68 between 2044 and 2046.  However, a review of state pension ages in 2017 (which was based on ONS population projections based on 2014 data) suggested reaching 68 in 2039 – seven years earlier.

ONS subsequently published projections based in 2018 and on that basis LCP assessed that the move to 67 and 68 would both need to be put back several decades (see: Twenty million adults could be in line for ‘state pension age reprieve’ as life expectancy improvements ‘collapse’ even before the Pandemic | Lane Clark & Peacock LLP (lcp.uk.com)).

Today, ONS has published new estimates based on 2020 population data.  As the Table below shows, these projections show a further decline in life expectancy at (current) state pension age for both men and women.  Crucially, compared with the projections on which the last state pension age review was based, the new projections suggest that for men and women currently at pension age, their life expectancy is now more than two years shorter than previously thought.  Most of this deterioration actually occurred before the Pandemic, and we are yet to see the full extent to which Covid-19 will impact on life expectancies in the long-term.

2014-based projections 2018-based projections 2020-based projections
Male, aged 66 in 2022 21.3 19.4 19.0
Female, aged 66 in 2022 23.4 21.5 21.3


Source: ONS projections, various years (see: Expectation of life, principal projection, UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)).  Note – all figures are for ‘cohort’ life expectancies as this is the definition used by the Government Actuary in its report on state pension age changes.

According to LCP partner Steve Webb, this latest data reinforces the case for a fundamental rethink of the timetable for increasing state pension ages, and in particular for the Government to look again at the plan to start moving towards a pension age of 67 in just four years’ time.

Steve Webb said:

“The last review of state pension ages was based on data which is now more than six years out-of-date. Since then, life expectancy at pension age for both men and women has dropped by more than two years. Such a dramatic shift in such a short space of time calls for a fundamental rethink of the government’s plans for increases in state pension age. With the move to 67 due to start in only four years, DWP needs to speed up its current review, as the case for rapid increases is simply not justified by the evidence”.

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