I have just had a quick read over at the Telegraph and I see that it is being mooted that the retirement age may be put back to 70.
It is an interesting subject, because I suspect it is less likely that you will find consensus through political party allegiance, and more likely that your age will bind people to similar opinions.
I will be 30 in a few months, and as an aside, perfectly fine with that... my hair started retreating at 19 so there is nothing too terrifying about turning three-O. Anyway the idea of working to 70 is not one that I am scared of or would object to. In fact at 30, with no savings, loans and credit cards, and a poor mortgage market, I have not got onto the housing ladder yet. If I was to take a higher rate deal now, I may well have to look at a 30 or 35 year term. Now, of course it is unlikely that I would stay on one mortgage for that whole period, but if I did, I would be 65 by the time a house was potentially paid off. What scares me is not having gainful employment until I am 70.
Ask me again in 10 years to put back retirement I will probably not be happy as I will probably be balder, poorer and moodier. 10 years later still, and you have no chance.
I am guessing that any readers pushing passed 50 would be against putting their retirement back - And I would support your protest, as you will have spent many years working towards the goal of retirement and it would be cruel to add five or more years to that. I am not advocating that.
As a nearly thirty something I would not be against putting back my retirement now. But it would need to be now, before I have lifelong financial plans and have picked out a retirement fishing boat.
My problems are as follows. Firstly, the Chancellor recently admitted that the 50p tax bracket at £150k was plucked out of the air. Like so many Government numbers I have no trust of them or the calculations... So a public or independent review is needed - and fast. Secondly, my working longer does not address the pressures on the current pension demands. I see three big pressures on the current pension pot:
1. The baby boomers retiring. And they are retiring now. They are entitled to their pensions after a life of hard work. But many having worked 40 or so years could be drawing pensions for 40 or more years now. The current system was not designed to support so many for so long.
2. The EU. In a draft version of EU Constitution from 2003 that I recall reading, pensions were to be pooled across the whole of the EU. At the time [I think] the UK was the only country that was saving ahead of the baby-boom retirement period. Subsequently this 'competence' was dropped, but the EU looked once and may again look to "pool" the retirement funds of the EU at a later date.
3. The biggest of all, this Labour Governments spending and debt. Every house in the country is currently committed to service £24k in government debt. The size of Government has almost consistently grown since the end of World War 2, as have the costs. You want me to work longer, start putting political candidates in front of me, and the electorate, who are prepared to reverse this trend.
As mentioned, there is the case that people retiring today will live longer than people who retired when the current age limits were set, and as time goes by we will witness more and more advances in science, diets and medicine extending life expectancies further. I haven't done the maths, but where the baby-boom generation will eventually pass, there is also the future pension requirements from an increasing population of which is increasing through immigration. Today's shortfalls need to be met with reductions in state spending elsewhere.
It is hard to argue that a pension offers a livable amount of money, but this will get worse and worse as time goes on unless we put the retirement age up. I am instinctively for free-market solutions, but I still think that as a society we need to provide a decent pension and a decent health service via the state.
So, as long as it is not based on Alistair Darling's or Gordon Brown's sums, which neither I nor most people trust and if it is about helping other people, who are much closer and actually in retirement to get a livable pension I am open to the dialogue.
I am also for the idea that this needs to be debated as changes need to be phased in over a long period of time and will, or at least should affect people of different ages differently. I do not believe you can keep everybody happy with such a system; however, fail to engage with those it will affect and it will backfire and in 10 or 15 years the whole pension system could collapse.
What do others think?