Britons warned UK state pension ‘will have to be lower and paid later’ as system ‘can’t cope’

Britons warned UK state pension ‘will have to be lower and paid later’ as system ‘can’t cope’

State pension age could need to increase to 70+ by 2050

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 18/02/2024

- 14:29

Updated: 18/02/2024

- 22:33

UK state pension spending is projected to cost £125billion for 2023/24, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)

Working-age Britons face getting a lower state pension and having to wait longer to get it because the current state pension system “can’t cope” with an ageing population, an expert has warned.

Chief executive of life insurer Phoenix Group Andy Briggs is urging Britons to prepare for the future now, as he warns dramatic reform could lie ahead.

Mr Briggs said the UK state pension system will soon become unsustainable, sparking calls for individuals to set aside money for the future while they can.

“The state pension just can’t cope in the way that it was originally designed to do,” he told The Telegraph.

What do you think about the state pension age? If you'd like to share your view, get in touch by emailing

“Effectively, state pensions are going to have to be paid later and at a lower level, and people are going to have to make greater personal provision.”

The state pension was first introduced in 1948, with a state pension age of 65 for men and 60 for women.

Mr Briggs pointed out that at that stage, life expectancy for men was 67. He added: “So the whole thing was designed with a life expectancy in retirement of two years.”

The state pension age has since risen; it’s now 66 for men and women and hikes to 67 then 68 lie ahead.

The average life expectancy for someone aged 66 now is 85 years for a man and 87 for a woman.

Furthermore, the number of over 60s across the globe will double between now and 2050, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Mr Briggs said it’s not likely the UK state pension age would be hiked by seven or eight years, which will cause “pressure” on the state pension.

He added: “Either that, or the tax rates for those working will have to go up quite materially.”

A think tank recently warned the UK and other ageing populations will need to hike their state pension age to 71 by 2050 in order to maintain the number of workers per retiree.

Person looks worried at finances

The UK state pension 'can't cope', an expert has warned


If the UK’s working adult population was defined as 20 to 64 years, to account for time spent in full-time education, the state pension age might need to reach 70+ as soon as 2040 to maintain the current dependency ratio, the International Longevity Centre warned.

Becky O’Connor, director of Public Affairs at pension provider PensionBee, said “such a dramatic increase” to the state pension age was “quite an alarming prospect”.

She said: “Even the suggestion that people won’t get it until their 70s will make people feel more distrustful than they already do in the state pension system and may cause actual worry and anxiety about their future.

“If people suffer ill health or face the need to care before 71, as is likely for many, they may have to give up work sooner than they can receive their state pension anyway and have to claim working age benefits for longer instead.

“While the sustainability of the state pension needs to be properly examined, increasing the age people get it may not turn out to be the cost saving a government would hope for.”

You may like