State Pension UK: Britons in limbo as more retire earlier due to COVID-19 pressures

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State Pension payments are currently overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Britons must reach the eligible age, currently set for most at 66, and have a certain number of National Insurance contributions to receive the sum. Many people will plan their retirement around the state pension age, taking necessary steps to plan for later life.

This is because it is at this point they can transition from a regular income via a salary, to the sum to which they are entitled from the government.

Indeed, some even delay retirement to allow their state pension sum to build while they continue to work.

However, new research has revealed a downturn in these occurrences, showing a drop in those expected to work past state pension age.

Analysis from Canada Life has revealed this is the first year the number of people expecting to work beyond state pension age has fallen since research began in 2015.

The number of Britons expecting to work beyond the government set age has now fallen by 14 percent year-on-year to 19.8 million in 2020.

It appears the impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the retirement plans of many people, creating a significant change.

Some 37 percent of those asked said they were concerned about their health and the impact it had on their ability to work.

In addition, 30 percent were worried continuing to work could have a detrimental effect on their health.

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For those who are choosing to work past the set government retirement age, concerns centre around finances and ability to retire.

A total of 42 percent expressed concerns their pension pot was not big enough, with 21 percent stating they were not amply prepared for retirement.

And 16 percent of those who continue to work said they do not expect to retire until turning 75.

Paul Avis, strategic propositions director at Canada Life, commented on the findings.

He said: “For some older workers, the events of 2020 have helped them realise they want to spend more time at home, with their families and learning new skills and hobbies.

“Whereas for others, poor health and vulnerability may – sadly – have accelerated their retirement plans.

“While unemployment continues to rise, job losses may be another contributing factor to this drop in the number of people planning on working beyond retirement age, especially for those receiving or expecting redundancy payments.

“However, the shape of retirement is changing and so are the wants and needs of those approaching the next phase of their lives.

“We are witnessing a huge shift in the retirement time horizon as society changes and adapts to a new norm, and these changes are only accelerating due to the pandemic.”

For those who are concerned about when they are able to receive their state pension sum, further clarity can be sought.

The government has a state pension forecast tool, accessible through their official website, which can provide a better picture.

The tool informs Britons when their scheduled state pension age is, what they can expect to receive, and whether they can take steps to increase their sum. 

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