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Home Finance Tricky balancing act for state pension policy as older population expected to soar

Tricky balancing act for state pension policy as older population expected to soar

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd

An estimated 13.6% of boys and 19.0% of girls born in the UK in 2020 are expected to live to at least 100 years of age. This is projected to increase to 20.9% of boys and 27.0% of girls born in 2045.

While life expectancy improvements may be slowing down, we are seeing the population continuing to age, and this has big implications for state pension policy.

In mid-2020 there were an estimated 11.9m people of pensionable age in the UK. This is expected to grow to 15.2m by mid-2045.

In comparison the working age population is projected to grow by a much slower rate from 42.5m to 44.6m.

The old-age-dependency ratio – the number of people of pensionable age for every 1,000 people of working age – is projected to increase from 280 in mid-2020 to 341 by mid-2045.

Today the ONS has released data on projected life expectancy as well as population estimates

Past and projected period and cohort life tables – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

National population projections – Office for National Statistics

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

“Pensioner power is on the rise, over a fifth of boys and well over a quarter of girls born in 2045 are projected to live to at least 100. This is great for those of us who get to live longer lives, but given that we’re also having fewer children, it means fewer people shouldering the burden of a much larger state pension bill. It leaves the government with a tricky balancing act.

We’ve seen state pension age increase rapidly in recent years to accommodate this, but the situation is not so simple anymore. There is growing discussion as to whether future increases should be brought in quite so quickly as longevity does not seem to be increasing at the same rate it once was.

Added to this are the wider implications for people’s retirement planning. Living to 100 is a huge positive but how can it be financed? If you start a pension at 22 and retire at 65 will you really have accumulated enough to potentially last you another 35 years? While many people will be able to continue working into their 70s, for others it just won’t be an option – just because we are living longer doesn’t mean we are living longer in good health. This brings the increased need for social care, something that can cost the elderly and their families many thousands per year.

While state pension age is under review, auto-enrolment reforms have been mooted and we await the introduction of a social care plan there are no quick policy fixes and people must do all they can to boost their pensions and investments so they are as prepared as they can be.”