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News Briefing - February 2021

Annual Briefing with nineteen topics covering wide range of issues./p>


Parity action group

State Pension Age Review

Delay in equalising state pension ages for men and women


We are opposed to any intervention in the phased process between 2010 and 2020 which extends state pension age inequality beyond that envisaged in the 1995 Pensions Act. Increasing men�s state pension age to 66 before this process is completed, as has been tentatively suggested by the Government, without hastening the increase in women�s state pension age in a corresponding manner, would amount to a direct sex discrimination against men. In such an event, not only would men be denied their state pension entitlement for longer, but their liability to national insurance contributions would also be extended compared to women. As legislation stands, with such a rise in men�s state pension age to 66, and no comparable hastening of the age for women, the equalisation process would be extended for yet another six years, ie. until 2026. This is especially concerning given that men typically do not live as long as women.


PARITY strongly objects to such a possibility.


Employment opportunities for young adults


Extending the working life of older people, as is envisaged, is likely to have a further adverse affect on employment prospects for younger people. Even now, the unemployment rate for young adult (16 to 24) people is about three times the rate for older workers. As a result, two-fifths of all those who are unemployed are now aged under 25. [Source: Labour Force Survey, ONS; updated May 2010]. Some 926,000 in this group were unemployed in April this year out of a total of about 2.5 million.


The disparity is even greater for young males. Averaging across 2007 to 2009, the unemployment rate for them was 18.4% compared to 4.8% for older male workers. For young females, the unemployment rate was 13.9% compared to 4.1% for older female workers.


The current increase in state pension age for women from 60 to 65 over the next ten years to 2020 will tend to increase the unemployment rate for young adult females, as older women continuing in work reduce employment opportunities for younger women.


Increasing the state pension age further to 66 for both sexes is likely to reduce employment opportunities for young adults of both sexes, unless more employment opportunities in substantial numbers are created generally in the economy.


By the same reasoning, increasing the age for men to 66 before 2020 will not only delay the intended equalisation process, and thus be a further sex discrimination against men, but tend to impact more on employment opportunities for young adult males than for females.


The Call for Evidence document is silent on this aspect.


State pension for those in heavy manual occupations


State pension schemes in some other countries have early retirement options on reduced pension, for those who choose to retire early. In particular, such schemes benefit those people working in heavy or dangerous manual occupations who are physically incapable of this type of work by their early sixties, or indeed, before. No such flexibility exists in the UK state pension scheme.


As a result, any increase in state pension age beyond 65, is likely to impact harder on those working in heavy manual or uncongenial occupations than those in less physical occupations. Moreover, although active (or healthy) life expectancy has steadily increased for the overall population in the UK (as elsewhere in the world), and of course this fact must influence government policy on pension provision, it is an average increase and includes substantial numbers of individuals who have not been so fortunate. Indeed, there is a substantial inequality in longevity, by sex and across regions and income groups.


Some research (eg. for the NIECR(1)), has suggested that a healthy life expectancy for a man aged 65 has risen less rapidly between 1992 and 2002 than the official estimates of total life expectancy.


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