UK delays decision on speeding up rise in pension age to 68

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) -The British government said on Thursday it would not yet bring forward a rise in the state pension age to 68, delaying a decision until after the next election to carry out a further review of the impact.

The state pension age, the earliest a person can start receiving publicly funded pension payments, is currently 66 and scheduled to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and then to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

A 2017 government-commissioned review proposed moving the change to 68 forward to 2037-2039.

The government is required to review the state pension age every six years and the latest review, published on Thursday, recommended the rise to 68 should take place in 2041-43, in part due to the slowing increase in life expectancy since 2017.

Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, told parliament there was not yet enough evidence available on the long-term impact of recent challenges such as COVID-19 to make a decision on the timing of the increase to 68.

“Given the level of uncertainty about the data on life expectancy, labour markets, and the public finances … I therefore plan for a further review to be undertaken within two years of the next parliament to consider the rise to age 68 again,” Stride said.

“The government does not intend to change the existing legislation prior to the conclusion of the next review.”

The governing Conservatives are trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls ahead of an election expected next year.

Labour said it supported the decision, but questioned the timing, citing previous comments by the government that bringing forward the increase was necessary for the long-term sustainability of the public finances.

“Now it turns out, with a general election only a year or so away … it is not so reckless and irresponsible after all to abandon it,” Labour’s work and pensions spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said.

France has seen some of its worst social unrest in years this month over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

($1 = 0.8102 pounds)

(Additional reporting by Muvija M; editing by Sarah Young)