Raising the age of retirement: 69% of Lib Dems back move to increase it to 69

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

69% of Lib Dems back raising the retirement age to 69

The Chancellor has said that the retirement age for state pensions will rise to 68 in the mid-2030s and 69 in the late 2040s. People now in their twenties may have to work until they are 70 before they receive a state pension. Do you support or oppose this?

    69% – Support
    20% – Oppose
    5% – Don’t know
    6% – Other

An interesting result, with Lib Dem members in our survey overwhelmingly supportive of raising the retirement age for state pensions. This is almost directly the opposite result of what YouGov found when they asked this same question of the general public: raising the retirement age was opposed by 57% to 32%.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 749 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 18th December.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    This entry was posted in LDV Members poll.


    • I retired when I was 59.
      It was the best thing I ever did!
      If the majority of people taking part in your survey think otherwise, I look forward to them requesting a 68 year old firefighter to rescue them from the floods or to carry them down a ladder from the upperfloor of a burning building.

      Perhaps they will feel safe when a 68 year old police officer steps in to prevent a gang of drunken thugs beating the, up?

      Perhaps they will look on approvingly when a 68 year old roofer climbs on top of their house to fix the slates after the gales?

      Nurses at the age of 68 will presumably be able to lift and carry obese patients without a thought in the brave new world that these people look forward to.

    • Steve Griffiths 7th Jan '14 - 10:28am

      I suspect this says a great deal about the current membership of the Liberal Democrats. My hunch is that the majority of the membership remaining are not in heavy manual jobs, or indeed the occupations mentioned by John Tilley above. They are most probably middle class professionals or other office based careers where there is an expectation of good health into late 60s or 70s, and where there jobs do not require them to over-exert physically.

      I wonder how many members the Lib Dems have now from my industry, construction? Or how many health workers and others from the caring professions, are included in the numbers?

    • Steve Griffiths 7th Jan '14 - 10:32am

      Sorry poor English – THEIR jobs. Doing things in haste.

    • Liberal Neil 7th Jan '14 - 12:28pm

      Raising the retirement age to 70 over the next 40 years is not the same thing as expecting everyone working in the fire service to still be carry people down ladders at the age of 69.

      Along with raising the retirement age we need to ensure that work patterns become more flexible to fit.

      Most employees of the fire service rarely have to carry anyone down a ladder. It should not be beyond the wit of fire service managers to organise their staff in such a way that the over 60s aren’t expected to do that kind of activity. But they will still be more than capable of undertaking the kinds of activities that fire service employees spend much more of their time doing such as working on fire prevention activities.

      Most 70 year olds in 2040 will be a lot fitter and healthier than most 60 year olds were i n 1940.

    • Richard Shaw 7th Jan '14 - 12:40pm

      @ JohnTilley, SteveGriffiths

      Aren’t you somewhat casually assuming that people are forced to have the same career their whole lives? That they can’t retrain or lack any transferable skills? In an ageing population with a declining number of Under 50s among the working population, one can expect fewer barriers to older people finding new jobs. Also, those older people in active careers are probably fitter than their younger docile office-based counterparts…

      If people aren’t mentally or physically capable to work any more then maybe that’s where disability benefit should come in but if someone is capable then perhaps they can or should keep working for longer. Someone retiring now can expect to live as long retired as they were in work – but as any kind of work is good for physical and mental health and slows decline in older age it’s in their interest to keep active to maintain their quality of life for longer.

    • Richard Shaw 7th Jan '14 - 12:44pm

      p.s. I actually favour increasing the State Pension age by +1 year every 5 years, which is in line with the trend of increase in healthy life expectancy.

    • Richard Shaw 7th Jan ’14 – 12:40pm
      “Someone retiring now can expect to live as long retired as they were in work – ”

      Really? Do the arithmetic. Left school at 16, retired at 65; so in work for 49 years. Not an uncommon experience for working people of my generation. Are you really suggesting that they will all live until they are at least 115 years old ?

    • paul barker 7th Jan '14 - 1:11pm

      The thing I find weird is the way we, as a society have managed to spin the rise in Life Expectancy into a Bad News Story. Yes, living longer means working longer but would we rather die sooner ?
      We need to get used to the idea that the Pension age rises by one year every Parliament, that should become automatic, with Cross-Party support.

    • Liberal Neil 7th Jan ’14 – 12:28pm

      How do you back up your assertion that – “Most 70 year olds in 2040 will be a lot fitter and healthier than most 60 year olds were i n 1940.” ???

      As far as I am aware there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that life expectancy in the UK will decline in coming years. Various changes in lifestyle which result in for example obesity have to be taken into account.
      It would be nice to think that what you say is true, but I am guessing that it is wishful thinking on your part and that you have not come across some amazing evidence which has so far been unavailable to the medical profession?

    • Steve Griffiths 7th Jan '14 - 1:21pm

      @Liberal Neil

      I think that is a rather glib assessment of the problems associated with the management of aging employees; it takes no account of wages/salaries budgets for one thing. You cannot simply keep on employing younger persons to do the more physically demanding work and thus expanding the workforce, whilst an ever increasing pool of existing employees are unable to do sections of the required labour.

      What job do you do?

      @Richard Shaw

      I have been in construction management for many years and know fully the problems associated with manual tradesmen as they age and approach retirement. They simply cannot carry out the same tasks and at the same rate as they could in previous decades; they may also carry physical conditions brought on by years of perform one trade. This is particularly acute for a smaller firm or employer with an aging workforce that have been very loyal to company concerned. Sure, they could re-train, but would you sack them on the grounds that they cannot quite work at the rate they once did, or perform quite the number of tasks they once could? Yes, you could employ additional younger trained staff, but a small firm may not have the financial resources to do so. I have had to wrestle with these very issues since the recent removal of the age 65 retirement. Many employers have voiced their concerns about this problem.

      And what job do you do?

    • Stuart Mitchell 7th Jan '14 - 1:26pm

      @Richard Shaw
      “Someone retiring now can expect to live as long retired as they were in work”

      Where on earth are you getting that information? According to the ONS, life expectancy at 65 in England and Wales ranges from 15.8 years (for men in Manchester) to 23.8 years (for women in Camden). So a 65 year old today can only expect to spend as long in retirement as they did in work if they started work some time in their 40s. How many people start their career in their 40s?

      You also mention healthy life expectancy. It may interest you to know that healthy life expectancy in England is 63.2 for males and 64.2 for females. Only in the South East and South West can people expect to be healthy even at the current retirement age. In some parts of the country, healthy life expectancy is as low as 54.1.

      Even under the current system, you can only expect any sort of healthy retirement if you live in an affluent area and/or can afford to retire early. Increasing the pension age to 70 will make healthy retirement a pipe dream for all but the wealthy. This seriously stinks. The government should stop dictating to people over this, launch some sort of proper commission and consultation, and come up with some different options for people to choose from. At the moment, the majority of people are being told by George Osborne that they have no serious choice but to work until they are unhealthy and then die shortly afterwards.

    • paul barker 7th Jan ’14 – 1:11pm
      Yes, living longer means working longer but would we rather die sooner ?

      Can you explain why you think the only choice should be between work and death?
      Why should anyone have to work longer than is necessary?
      We are of course talking about payment of the old age pension here.
      Many people work as volunteers in their retirement, or work looking after sick relatives, or work as informal grandchild minders so that their children can go out to work. They are able to do this because they receive an old age pension. Or do you want a world where the only people who are valued are those in work for an employer?

    • I don’t quite see what the issue is. It was obvious in the mid 1980’s that retirement age for state pensions would be equalised upwards for men and women and also be increased to 70. The only question was when. A timetable was finally agreed and in 2007 put into law. What surprised me was given all the debate just how minor the changes were, I was expecting that any one born after circa 1960 having to retire at 70 not 66 (although this may increase to 67 if the proposals from the 2011 Autumn statement make it into law).

      So as far as I’m concerned if you are in your twenties now then you should be expecting to be working until you’re 70 before you get your state pension.

      The only question that has arisen in recent years, is whether the changes are happening fast enough for the government to keep the state pension commitments affordable and hence the reason for the relatively minor changes contained in the 2011 Autumn Statement. I suggest that for most working people it is largely irrelevant the exact age (between 65 and 70) they receive their pension, as it is likely to change again between now and then…

      The only real problem is the raising of the state retirement age creates an extended period where people are expected to survive between the end of their first career/working life and receiving a state pension. For some this extended period creates an opportunity for a second career, for others particularly manual workers it potentially creates a real problem, and for others in life harming professions (eg. firemen) it means they are not likely to live to receive their state pension. I’ve yet to see any real proposals for how we as a society better plan for and handle this second career window .
      The only other question (which firemen are asking) is at what age should they start receiving the pension from their first career and whether this should be enhanced due to non-payment of the state pension element.

    • Stuart Mitchell 7th Jan '14 - 6:35pm

      “I don’t quite see what the issue is.”

      Well that’s fine for you – perhaps you’re not bothered about retiring, or have the means to do so when you want. But lots of people will be pretty desperate to retire long before they are 70, and in many parts of the country the government is now stacking the odds against the probability of them being able to do so while still reasonably healthy (or, in some parts, alive at all).

      The headline to this piece is misleading. The government cannot set the “age of retirement”. Raising the state pension age to 69 will not stop the affluent from retiring much earlier than that if they want to. Only the poor are forced to carry on to the state pension age. That has always been so of course, but what the government is doing will make the disparity far worse.

    • @stuart
      You missed my last paragraph….

      The debate isn’t so much about the date a person can claim their state pension but about how people can support themselves in the interval between them finishing their normal/traditional working life and claiming their pension (or not as the case may be) – this interval existed back in the 1980’s and hence the problem hasn’t been newly created.

      The other debate is what is ‘retirement’ exactly? As JohnTilley observes many people work during ‘retirement’ and several of the third sector organisations I’m involved with rely on people who’s first career is effectively over when they get to 50 and hence have been “pensioned off” but are still highly capable and able people.

    • 69% ! They must all be under 50. I,too, retired at 59 but after a rest got elected as aTown Councillor. At 73 I have now retired having led a large town council for 8 years.

    • As JohnTilley observes many people work during ‘retirement’ and several of the third sector organisations I’m involved with rely on people who’s first career is effectively over when they get to 50 and hence have been “pensioned off” but are still highly capable and able people.

      But I did make the point that the payment of an old age pension was what freed people to o valuable voluntary work. I am hoping that you agree that point. I hopethat others here also recognise that the universal pension at 65 liberates people from the daily drudge of wage slavery.

      People often go on to do brilliant things In retirement that they have been prevented from achieving during a lifetime of processing crap on a factory line. When Liberal Democrats talk about freedom they need to consider the freedom from work, when work means a dull and demeaning grind to earn a minimal income to survive in a job that you hate for an employer that you despise. I realise that is not the experience of the fluffy, middle-class keyboard tappers that belong to the party nowadays but it is the experience of millions of people in this country and the rest of the world.

    • Why do I think that I will never reach state pension retirement age.
      I could live as long as my grandfather at 87 and be still looking forward to the state pension age.

      Yes, when the state pension was set up there short have been an individual fund for each person.
      The investment should be there.
      Instead, we got a scheme where income is paid from new members contributions.
      Any private fund income from future deposits is actually a ponzy or pyramind scheme/scam.
      There is still time to put this right; Is there?
      Challenge those banksters.

    • Mick Taylor 8th Jan '14 - 12:36pm

      I have a simple question for all the moaners about rising pension age. How do they propose to fund keeping it at 65? Higher NI contributions or higher tax? After over 30 years of being told by government that taxes should be cut rather than rise how do they propose to get the electorate to vote for higher taxes?

    • Mick Taylor 8th Jan ’14 – 12:36pm

      I am not sure why Mick often refers to others as “moaners” .
      It is possible to hold a different view from him without moaning.

      Just in case I qualify for the title of moaner, I will answer his question. Quite simply we could the old age pension at 65 in the same way that we always have.
      There is only a problem with that if you are one of those people who have swallowed Thatcherite propaganda hook,line and sinker . The far right may well have been banging out the same deceptions about tax and spend for 30 years but they are just as wrong as they ever were.

    • Malcolm Todd 8th Jan '14 - 1:59pm

      John Tilley “Quite simply we could [fund] the old age pension at 65 in the same way that we always have.”

      Well no, we couldn’t, if people are living longer than they used to. Or rather, we can fund it in the same way, i.e. out of general taxation (there’s no other sensible way to fund a state pension), but only by increasing taxes, which (apart from his unnecessary reference to “moaners”) was Mick Taylor’s point, I think.

    • Changing laws based on a changing average ignores the fact that laws are not just enforced on the average person; they are enforced on all people. If there are demographic sectors in which the span of life or of productive health remains constant or is even shrinking, then they will be disproportionately affected.

    • Simon Banks 8th Jan '14 - 5:34pm

      John Tilley: apart from Richard Shaw’s well-made point, there is a point of principle. Good equal opportunities employers judge people’s suitability for a job, whether to be appointed to it or to continue doing it, on grounds of demonstrable competence, not age, gender or anything else. In the case of firefighters and police officers, for example, there are physical tests people can take and perhaps fail.

      The problem about the idea is rather that many people who’d be happy to go on working won’t be able to find work, but instead of being able to retire, will be on some kind of unemployment benefit with all the demands and qualifications attached.

      One idea that seems almost to have vanished from the agenda is phased retirement, cutting down on hours and so on instead of suddenly finding the world has changed completely.

    • Malcolm Todd 8th Jan ’14 – 1:59pm

      Yes, fund old age pensions out of general taxation. This country is much, much richer today than it was in the 1940’s. In that decade politicians prioritised funding of a number of policies including the old age pension, creation of the NHS, free education up to and including university grants, major public house-building programmes. All of this out of general taxation.

      There is only a problem if you accept Thatcherite nostrums about taxation. We could fund all sorts of socially useful public spending from increased taxation on those who can afford to pay it and by cutting unnecessary expenditure on Trident, aircraft carriers, royal family spongers, opera houses in London, nuclear power, elected police commissioners, a huge and unaccountable set of spooks , etc etc. There seems to be a myth that people on the left are against cutting government expenditure but the real battle is about prioritising. I could go on with a very long list of cuts that couldbe made to pay for old age pensionsat 65.

    • Cllr Martin Hunt 8th Jan '14 - 10:12pm

      I’m 67and very sad to have been a member of a Party for so long whose members want old folk to slave until 70 to get their state pension while young people have no jobs. Doesn’t anyone else realise how stupid this is?

    • It makes very little sense to me.

    • Julian Dean 8th Jan '14 - 10:30pm

      You were for the regionalisation of PS wages so why not the state pension based on the area life expentancy?

    • Julian Dean 8th Jan ’14 – 10:30pm
      You were for the regionalisation of PS wages so why not the state pension based on the area life expentancy?

      Julian, is this a joke? If you are serious, the answer is because it would be completely impractical. Would it be the life expectancy of the area you were born in, the area you are living in at the time of retirement, , the area where you spent most of your working life? Life expectancy data by region would not identify smaller areas of very low or very high life spans. Need I go on? Tell me it was a joke and that you were not seriously suggesting this.

    • Cllr Martin Hunt 9th Jan '14 - 9:56am

      I’ve just thought of a brilliant solution to the problem. Look at the film Soylent Green. They didn’t need to pay out pensions at all!

    • Cllr Martin Hunt 8th Jan ’14 – 10:12pm
      “… old folk to slave until 70 to get their state pension while young people have no jobs. Doesn’t anyone else realise how stupid this is?”

      Not stupid at all! remember young people have no jobs under the current system (people retiring at 60~65), the ‘old folk’ who will be slaving until 70 are the 20-something’s of today – not the ‘old folk’ we see walking around today (who in their turn bear little resemblance to the ‘old folk’ I remember walking about in my youth).

      No what is stupid is the insistence that we need mass immigration ie. add more people to an overcrowded island who need housing etc. etc., when through better use of those already living here we can significantly enlarge the work force and reduce (ie. maintain current levels) taxation without the problems of mass immigration.

    • Richard Shaw 9th Jan '14 - 1:25pm

      @ Steve Griffiths

      “And what job do you do?”

      Well since you asked: I work in an office-based job for a company in health and social care, which has strong ties to educational institutes for healthy ageing and living. Does that invalidate my previous comment?

      @Cllr Martin Hunt

      Older people staying in work doesn’t cost young people jobs – it’s not a zero-sum equation. Older people in work are more economically active (i.e. more demands/consumption than being retired on the same or smaller income) thus increasing the demand for jobs and helping to employ young people (aka ‘The Under-50s’). Plus they have a life-time of technical skills and life experiences they can pass on to their younger colleagues over longer periods of time. Thus building a stronger economy and a fairer society. 😉

      @JohnTilley, Stuart Mitchell

      “Can expect” is not the same as “all” or “will”. You need to consider that their life expectancy will increase as that person goes through their retirement – it’s not fixed as soon as they retire; they’ll continue to benefit from advances in medicines, social care and so on. Barring lifestyle and environmental factors, if the 65-year retiree gets to 85 their expectancy will have increased another 4+ years (the +1 every 5 increase I mentioned in my latter comment). There are over 13,000 people over the age of 100 in the UK, a figure which will only increase and become less startling.

    • Richard Shaw 9th Jan ’14 – 1:25pm
      Can I ask you to expand on your assertion –
      ” There are over 13,000 people over the age of 100 in the UK, a figure which will only increase and become less startling. ”

      Are you saying that because some of those 13,000 people have happy, healthy lives, free from poverty, disability and dementia then they should have been denied a pension at 65 ?

      I am guessing that the vast majority of the 13,000 are women., who therefore would have got their pension at 60 some time in the 1970s. ? Is their long life perhaps an argument in favour of pensions earlier rather than later ?

    • Cllr Martin Hunt 9th Jan ’14 – 9:56am
      I’ve just thought of a brilliant solution to the problem. Look at the film Soylent Green. They didn’t need to pay out pensions at all!

      Good point, councillor! I have the DVD of Soylent Green, it is a thought-provoking film.
      UNLIKE some people here in LDV it has never seemed to me to be a suitable blueprint for a Liberal pensions policy.

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