Work till you drop

2004

One in five people in the UK – and almost one in three men - will die before they retire if the government pushes up the state pension age to 70.

Research carried out by the TUC has also found that the death rate at 70 years of age rises to almost half of men and more than a third of the population as a whole in Britain's most deprived areas.

As a growing number of groups call for Britain’s state retirement age to increase to 70 as a way of tackling the pensions crisis, the TUC says that this will mean an unacceptably large number of people - particularly in more deprived areas - will have to work until they 'literally drop'.

Both Germany and Italy have proposed increasing the retirement age and while no formal plans have been floated by the government in the UK, the idea will certainly be amongst those being considered for any future overhaul of the ailing state pensions system.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Many commentators tell us that we can solve the pensions crisis if we all work longer before we retire. But these figures show that many will have to work until they literally drop if the retirement age is increased to 70.

"And it is hardly surprising that the biggest losers live in Britain's most deprived boroughs, where only just over half the men would live long enough to claim a pension if the retirement age goes up to 70.

"I suspect many of those who say we should all work longer have good jobs behind desks and their own substantial pension savings.”

"It is simply not an option for many manual workers to carry on working until they are 70. They will either die or be forced on to benefits before they can claim their rightful pension."

Official figures show that in England and Wales one in six of the population dies before reaching 65, and a further 7 per cent die before 70. Men are more likely to lose out. One in five dies before 65, rising to nearly one in three before 70.

The biggest losers are in London’s deprived boroughs. Nine of the top ten local authorities who would lose out the most are in London. In Hackney, almost four out of ten die before they are 70 and almost half of men don’t see their 70th birthday.

But as the UK, like other European countries, struggles to afford state pension payments, Brendan Barbour is adamant that the only answer is for all of us to save more for our retirements.

“The only real solution to the pensions crisis is a good state pension linked to rising prosperity, on top of which people should build extra with compulsory contributions from employers and from all but the lowest paid employees,” he said.

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