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Scrapping retirement age 'will ease the pensions crisis'

12 January 2010 / by Rebecca Sargent

Harriet Harman's pledge to review the default retirement age of 65 has been welcomed by industry experts.

Independent policy adviser Dr Ros Altmann said, "Harriet Harman has hit on a possible winner", believing that, "at last politicians are waking up to the potential of helping older workers – the over 50s are the majority of voters."

Dr Altmann believes that scrapping the mandatory retirement age will ease the pensions crisis we are heading towards as people live longer, but with inadequate pension provisions.

"The top earners are fine, they have been able to save large amounts, but around 70-80 per cent of the population cannot save enough to provide good pensions that will last from 60 or so for another 20 or 30 years.

"If they keep earning some money, by working part-time, then their pensions will not have to last as long and they can have more money to spend as they age."

The equality minister and deputy Labour leader spoke yesterday at the 'Challenges for Our Age' event organised by Age Concern and Help the Aged. And although she expressed her desire for a review of the current age, she did not go as far as to pledge its abolition.

Commenting, Andrew Harrop, head of policy for both charities, said: "Media reports of Harriet Harman's pledge to scrap the default retirement age raised the hopes of tens of thousands of older workers that the Government would finally put an end to forced retirement legislation.

"Millions of older workers need to carry on working past state pension age to boost their savings and pension pots eroded by the recession. For them, an outright ban of forced retirement legislation can't come soon enough."

He added: "Older workers shouldn't be forced to wait any longer. In the lead-up to the general election, we call on all political parties to make the abolition of the default retirement age a central part of their electoral manifestos."

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