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State Pension claimants fall by 120,000 as increase in pension age bites

Written by: Emma Lunn
Changes to the State Pension age are saving the government an estimated £18.5m a week.

There were 13 million recipients of the State Pension in February 2019, 120,000 less than a year earlier, according to government figures.

The fall is mostly because of a decrease in the number of new claimants after December 2018, as the State Pension age started to rise beyond 65 for men and women.

Since December the age at which both men and women reach State Pension age is the same. Prior to this, women were able to receive the State Pension earlier. The State Pension age is currently transitioning between 65 and 66; it will reach 66 by 6 October 2020 and then go on to increase to 67 by 2028.

Claimants of the new State Pension receive an average of £154.70 per week. Hargreaves Lansdown calculated that the change could be saving the government £18.5m a week.

Nathan Long, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Waiting longer for your State Pension is having the desired effect for the government, as the overall number claiming their pension dropped. A delay in receiving the bedrock of your retirement income isn’t popular, but is necessary against a backdrop of people living longer.

“This will only accelerate more flexible working among older workers, making the flexibility of the pension freedoms even more valuable. Anyone coming towards retirement should consider when they’ll want to finish work, what job they’d like to do, how often they want to work and where they’ll want to live when they finish work. These are all key questions which will help guide any decisions you need to make with your personal and workplace pensions.”

The Department of Work and Pensions’ statistical summary also shows that women are getting a better deal from the new State Pension introduced three years ago than they did under the old system. However, men are receiving slightly less.

Pre-2016 men typically received £159.31 a week, compared to £156.39 under the new system. Women received an average of £131.52 pre-2016 versus £148.33 now.

Stephen Lowe, communications director at Just Group, said: “It is positive to see the gender gap closing for State Pension but of course we are still a long way from true pension parity, as shown by figures that reveal nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of claimants for Pension Credit are women.

“That reinforces the importance of women heading towards retirement taking advantage of the free, impartial and independent guidance on offer from Pension Wise and also checking they are claiming all the benefits they are eligible to receive, such as Pension Credit.”

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