Older workers ‘vulnerable’ as healthy life expectancy 10 years behind state pension age

Retirement expert advises people to learn about state pensions

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The Government has published a report detailing its plans to execute its ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. One part of these plans is to increase healthy life expectancy in the UK by five years by 2035.

Healthy life expectancy is the number of years someone can expect to live before experiencing ill health.

In some parts of the UK, the healthy life expectancy can be as low as 53.7 years for men and 55.3 for women.

With the state pension age currently sitting at 66, this means there will be some people in work for many years whilst experiencing health problems.

The Government also aims to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy between local areas where it is highest and lowest by 2030.

The disparity between different parts of the country is clear, with healthy life expectancy in the least deprived areas potentially as high as 71.5 for men and 76.0 for women.

That means depending on where someone lives, they may be able to live over a decade longer before facing health issues.

With the state pension age set to rise in the future, this leaves a risk that without healthy life expectancy increasing, more and more people will be forced to work while dealing with health problems.

The state pension age is on course to rise to 67 by 2028, and again to 68 by 2046.

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Becky O’Connor, Head of Pensions and Savings at interactive investor, believes the current healthy life expectancy figures must be addressed.

She said: “The Government is right to focus on healthy life expectancy as one of its key metrics for the levelling up agenda.

“The age at which people are likely to experience ill health that could make it difficult for them to work, is well below the state pension entitlement age, which makes the sixties a vulnerable time of life for people who can’t afford to retire but can’t work either.

“However, health isn’t something you can fix overnight; positive changes now could take decades to become apparent in a rise in healthy life expectancy in deprived areas.”

Ms O’Connor explained that a higher healthy life expectancy is vital to ensuring Britons can execute their plans for retirement as they originally intended.

She continued: “Good health, as we have seen through the pandemic, is vital for work and wellbeing.

“Poor health too often derails financial security in later life, forcing people to leave work earlier than planned and potentially use up private pension savings early.

“This can have knock-on effects on their quality of life in later years, leading to a vicious circle of lower living standards, worry and more health problems.

“Health is vital for financial wellbeing and vice versa.”

Ill health was found to have derailed retirement plans for 24 percent of people by interactive investor’s Great British Retirement Survey.

Having a decent income was cited as important for general health by 88 percent of respondents in the research.

Ms O’Connor concluded: “Improving financial security through income levelling up and quality of life through housing provision improvements are all part of how to improve health.”

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