So, the Autumn Statement has begun, but I have to admit I’m furious about the statements surrounding the decision to increase the pension age at an even faster rate than before. Some incredibly broad brush justifications were rolled out for this that seem to suggest that a cookie cutter approach has been adopted based on the experience of the civil servants and politicians suggesting them, rather than of that of the ordinary individual who has to actually work for a living.
The state pensionable age has been in a state of adjustment for a few years now, having risen to 65 and in a process of shifting to the age of 68 by the year 2046. This date is now being brought forward into the mid-2030s, with a likely rise again to 69 in the 2040s – which means that people who are currently in their 20s are probably going to have to work until they are 70.
This has already added a new level of uncertainty among people applying for bus passes, for example, around the country. In London, subsidised by the Mayor, passes for free travel on busses, trains and the underground can still be applied for from the age of 60. If you live outside London though, the calculation is somewhat complicated. My local library has resorted to posting a spreadsheet of dates of birth and the date that someone born in any given month is going to be eligible for a bus pass.
The complication is that the library is very close to a London Borough, so friends who come in to make enquiries may find that one of them is told that they can apply for a London Freedom Pass, but their friend must wait until April 2015 for a Bus-only Pass.
The government believes that people should not be retired for more than a third of their adult lives and that the pensionable age should therefore keep pace with increasing life expectancy.
The problem is that life expectancy changes depending on where you live in the country, and more importantly people’s work lives take different tolls on the body. The quality of life that can be expected at the age of 70 is far different for someone who has largely spent their life behind a desk than for someone who has worked on a building site.
Retiring at 65 still allows you to have fun and relax a little while there’s still some life and fire in you. By the time you’re 70, well frankly bits are starting to fall off, misbehave or just not work at all – assuming some industrial-related disease hasn’t caught up with you and left you any breath in your body at all.
Let’s just take a moment to point out that the multimillionaires proposing these changes in employment conditions and law are not going to be affected by them. Many of them don’t really need to work at all now, but live in the Westminster bubble where people keep turning up to government until they can’t raise the strength to pay for the subsidised food bill. Even then, dying in the Palace of Westminster is illegal, so I’m half expecting to see subsidies announced in a few years for some extra-large chest freezers to be installed in the kitchens…