More than one in three people would back early access to state pension

More than one in three people aged between 50 and the state pension age of 66 would consider taking their pension early at a lower rate if the option was offered, new research from AJ Bell has found.

Currently, the full flat rate state pension is worth £179.60 per week, while the basic state pension pays £137.60 per week.

The government has faced continued calls to provide more flexibility in the state pension system to make it fairer for those with lower life expectancies.

According to the investment platform’s survey of 1,071 people aged 50 to 66 carried out at the start of September, 37.5% of respondents would consider receiving the state pension earlier than age 66 if the option was available. The research found that 33.4% would not consider this option, while the remaining 29.1% said they were unsure.

AJ Bell head of retirement policy, Tom Selby, commented: “Increases in the state pension age – particularly those that affected 1950s-born women – have been hugely controversial in recent years and sparked debate about the fairness of the current system.

“In particular, significant differences in life expectancy in different parts of the country have led to concerns the least well off are losing out. For example, according to official data someone born in Blackpool can expect to live, on average, a decade less than someone born in Westminster.

“Allowing early state pension access at a reduced rate would potentially help address this unfairness. What’s more it could be popular, with more than a third of people aged 50 to 66, the current UK state pension age, saying they would consider this if it was offered as an option by the government.”

However, Selby also suggested that allowing people to access the state pension early could create extra complexity and potentially lead to a short-term drain on Treasury finances.

“Enabling early access would add extra complexity to the system and might result in people choosing to get their state pension as early as they can, without considering the impact on their retirement plans over the longer-term,” he added.

“This could also have implications for the Treasury, which would potentially face a short-term cashflow problem if lots of people decided to take their state pension before age 66.”

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