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Retirement age should be raised to 75, report says.

Byline: CLAIRE MILLER Deputy head of data journalism claire.miller@walesonline.co.uk

PEOPLE in Wales could be looking at a very short retirement if the pension age was raised to 75. Even worse, in some areas the amount of time you can expect to live - and to spend in good health - is going backwards.

A report by the Centre for Social Justice has said Britain can no longer afford the current plan to raise the pension age to 67 in 2028 then 68 by 2046, so it must be speeded up.

It proposes raising the eligible age to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035.

Between 2001-03 and 2012-14, life expectancy at birth in the region steadily rose from 75.5 years to 78.4 years for men, and from 80.1 years to 82.3 years for women.

But since then it has remained largely unchanged, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

In fact total life expectancy dropped slightly at 78.3 years for men and 82.2 years for women in 2015-17 too.

Wales has seen the smallest gain in life expectancy of any of the countries in the UK in recent years.

For men in Wales, the gain in life expectancy was less than half a year between 2009-11 and 2015-17, compared with two years in the previous period, while for women the picture is similar, with Wales having the smallest increase in the UK in the most recent period of only 0.2 years.

And some parts of Wales saw even bigger drops in life expectancies.

In Powys, life expectancy at birth for men has dropped from 80.5 years in 2012-14, to 79.6 years in 2015-17.

Carmarthenshire has seen a drop from 78.8 years to 78.0 years, Ceredigion has seen a drop from 80.3 years to 79.5 years, and Gwynedd has seen a drop from 79.8 years to 79.0 years.

For women, life expectancy at birth in Newport has dropped from 82.4 years in 2012-14 to 81.8 years in 2015-17. Bridgend has seen a drop from 81.7 years to 81.2 years, and Wrexham has seen a drop from 81.8 years to 81.4 years.

It's not only how long you can expect to live, but how many years of good health you may have - and people in Wales are already unlikely to make it to retirement age without health problems.

In Caerphilly, healthy life expectancy at birth for men has dropped from 58.6 years in 2012-14, to 55.2 years in 2015-17.

Carmarthenshire has seen a drop from 62.5 years to 60.4 years, and Blaenau Gwent has seen a drop from 56.1 years to 54.1 years, meaning men in the area can expect the fewest years of good health.

For women, healthy life expectancy at birth in Blaenau Gwent has dropped from 59.5 years in 2012-14, to 54.5 years in 2015-17, one of the biggest drops in the UK.

Monmouthshire has seen a drop from 67.3 years to 64.3 years, and Ceredigion has seen a drop from 68.0 years to 65.8 years.

The report, published on Saturday by the Conservative research group, cofounded by former Conservative leader and work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, is titled Ageing Confidently: Supporting an Ageing Workforce, and says: "Removing barriers for older people to remain in work has the potential to contribute greatly to the health of individuals and the affordability of public services.

"Therefore, this paper argues for significant improvements in the support for older workers.

"This includes improved healthcare support, increased access to flexible working, better opportunities for training, an employer-led mid-life MoT and the implementation of an 'Age Confident' scheme."

It goes on to say that a job allows independence, offers social benefit and generally improves wellbeing, adding that if support is in place to find work it would propose an increase in the state pension age to 75 by 2035.

Ex-pensions minister Ros Altmann tweeted a series of posts regarding the report, saying that the increase is "shocking" and "must not be allowed to happen."

She said: "Major changes in pension attitudes required due to big life expectancy differentials. Using age as a strict cutoff is not good policy."

The UK as a whole is seeing a similar pattern of stalling life expectancy.

In 2015-17, men in the UK had a life expectancy of 79.2 years at birth, while women had a life expectancy of 82.9 years.

Since 2009-11, men's life expectancy at birth has increased by 10 months while women's has increased by only five months.

In comparison, between 2002-04 and 2008-10, men's life expectancy increased by one year and 11 months, and women's by a year and a half.

In 2015-17, healthy life expectancy at birth was 63.1 years for men and 63.6 years for women.

Women's healthy life expectancy at birth in the UK has decreased by three months since 2009-11, when records began, while healthy life expectancy for men increased by five months over the same period.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2019
Words:877
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