Union: minority government ‘has no mandate’ to hike pension age
Civil service mainstay Prospect warns new work and pensions secretary not to raise retirement bar
David Gauke in Downing Street Credit: PA
One of the civil service’s main unions has cautioned new work and pensions secretary David Gauke not to be “bounced” into raising the state pension age on the back of an overdue government response to March’s independent Cridland Review.
John Cridland’s proposals included pushing the state pension age up to 68 over two years from 2037, nine years earlier than currently planned, and ending the so-called “triple lock” on annual rises in the value of the state pension.
The official response to the pension-age proposals – which Cridland accepted would be bound to impact public sector occupational schemes – was due at the beginning of May, but was delayed because of prime minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election.
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It is now the responsibility of Gauke, who was promoted to lead the DWP from his former role of chief secretary to the Treasury in the reshuffle following the June 8 poll that saw the Conservatives lose their overall majority.
This week Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy warned Gauke that the minority government had no mandate to increase the pension age and that any decisions on the issue should be delayed until new longevity data was available.
“No party proposed specific increases in the state pension age in their manifestos and there is no majority in the House of Commons for this,” he said.
“Indeed, the main opposition parties specifically opposed the increases already legislated for. What’s more, the increased turnout among younger voters surely represents a desire to tackle intergenerational unfairness rather than exacerbate it.”
Clancy said a government report on the first periodic review of rules about state pension age had been due by May 7, but insisted there was no requirement for changes in the age to be proposed at present and that “rushing into a decision would be a big mistake”.
Under the Pensions Act 2007, state pension age is due to rise to 68 by 2046, but Cridland’s review called for the timescale for the move to be brought forward and effected over a two-year period from 2037-9.
The review said the earlier dates would reflect increased longevity and the principles of intergenerational fairness, as projections indicated the move would still allow people to spend one third of their adult lives in retirement.
It added that if Office for National Statistics projections were borne out, an increase in the state pension age to 69 was likely to be needed, but not for “at least a decade after the increase to 68”.
However Prospect’s Clancy said now was the wrong time to legislate for changes almost two decades away, and which would not require legislation until 2027.
“If the government waits for a few years there will be a lot more data available on which to base decisions and still plenty of time to implement changes that might be necessary,” he said.
“I urge the secretary of state to consider this carefully rather than being bounced into rubber-stamping decisions that were made by officials before he even took office.”
Cridland’s final report was released on the same day the Government Actuary’s Department published a report on the state pension age that broached the potential for increasing the eligibility to 70 from the mid 2050s.
The GAD report stressed that while the government was “considering” changes to the state pension age timetable, it had not committed the modelling options set out in the report.
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