Scrap the Retirement Age, Demands Minister; Move Is a 'Back Door' Bid to Solve Pensions Crisis, Say Tories

Daily Mail (London), September 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

Scrap the Retirement Age, Demands Minister; Move Is a 'Back Door' Bid to Solve Pensions Crisis, Say Tories


Byline: DARREN BEHAR

THE compulsory retirement age should be scrapped and people left to work as long as they want, the new Pensions Secretary said yesterday.

Alan Johnson, who was promoted to the Cabinet earlier this month, believes such a policy would tackle ageism.

He declared: 'My instinctive feeling has always been that, compared to America we are a pretty ageist society. As soon as they get over 50, people are being written off.

'In the U.S. they don't have an ageist approach. I've always felt it would be much healthier if we had that system here.' America outlawed age discrimination in 1967 and abolished the mandatory retirement age for most workers in 1986. But such a move here - suggested by Mr Johnson in an interview with a Sunday newspaper - would spark a row with employers and could lead to staff working into their seventies or longer.

At present, British firms can set a mandatory retirement age, which is usually 60 or 65.

Scrapping the upper limit would be seen as a backdoor way of solving the growing pensions crisis. Ensuring more staff work beyond 65 would save the Government billions of pounds a year. Workers would still be able to claim the state pension, currently at 60 for women and 65 for men, according to Mr Johnson.

But if they worked beyond retirement age they would still pay income tax and be barred from certain other benefits.

The Government would also try to persuade people to take their state pension later in return for a lump sum or higher weekly payments.

Unions fear that if mandatory retirement was dropped, firms would raise the age at which workers could claim their company pension. …

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