The Government commissioned two reports published in 2017 to assist its review of the State Pension age (SPA): an independent review by John Cridlanda and a report by the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD).b The GAD report explored two scenarios, each examining the SPA path implied by a different proportion of adult life an individual might expect to live in retirement. The Cridland report examined SPA sustainability more generally.
Independent review of the State Pension age: Smoothing the transition
The Cridland report was forward looking. It did not cover any existing arrangements before April 2028, which are already legislated for. The primary focus was the sustainability of the current system, life expectancies and the challenges faced by those most reliant on the state pension.
It concluded that the SPA should rise from 67 to 68 by 2039, seven years earlier than the Government’s previous timetable. It estimated that this would reduce state pension spending to 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2066-67, 0.3 percentage points lower than projected in our 2017 Fiscal sustainability report. Intuitively, this reflects fewer state pension recipients, plus a boost to GDP driven by a higher employment rate. The report recommended that future SPA increases should be in line with longevity expectations, although by no more than one year in each decade.
The report recommended that the state pension should remain a single-tier pension (after the equalisation of the SPA by November 2018), although it also recommended that there should be additional means-tested support one year before any SPA increase for those who are unable to work longer due to ill health or caring responsibilities.
The report also recommended that the ‘triple lock’ should be abolished and replaced with an average earnings link. The cost of the triple lock relative to earnings uprating reaches 1.0 per cent of GDP in the state pensions projections we set out in this FSR.
Periodic review of rules about State Pension age: Report by the Government Actuary
GAD produced an indicative report evaluating the impact of the ‘up to a third of adult life’ principle – often referred to as the longevity link. It reviewed the SPA timetable based on two separate scenarios: the previous 33.3 per cent and an alternative 32 per cent of adult life (where adult life begins at age 20). Under both scenarios, GAD found that the increase in the SPA from 67 to 68 would have to be brought forward when compared with the then current legislation.
It is worth noting that both reports were produced before the latest ONS population projections were available, so do not reflect the higher mortality assumptions in those projections.