What does the chart show?
It shows that fewer people are claiming the state pension.
In August this year, 12.63m people received the UK state pension. This is around 120,000 fewer than the year before.
At the same time two years ago, in August 2017, about 300,000 more people were claiming the state pension, or 12.94m individuals living in the UK and overseas.
What is driving the drop off in numbers?
Eligibility for the state pension is based on a number of factors, including age.
In recent years, the qualifying age for the state pension has risen for both men and women, reducing the numbers eligible to claim. The qualifying age is currently 65 for both males and females, but it is steadily increasing.
In 2010, the state pension age for women was much lower at 60. It gradually rose to equalise with men’s at 65 in 2018. The number of new claimants started to tail off in 2016 due to the full impact of 1950s-born women having to wait longer to claim their pensions.
Do we expect this trend to continue?
Yes. The state pension age for men and women is set to rise from 65 to 66 by the end of 2020. This will affect about 400,000 people born in the early 1960s.
It is then scheduled to rise again to 67 by 2028. Beyond that, there are plans to increase the state pension age to 68 between 2037 and 2039.
Under the 2037/39 timetable, anyone born on or before April 5 1970 will see no change to their state pension age.
Why is the government increasing the state pension age?
Chiefly to contain costs as people live longer.
The state pensions for today’s retirees are paid for by working people through their national insurance contributions. As the number of younger people relative to older people in the population decreases, this means the burden for the state pension is falling more heavily on those of working age.
Once in receipt of the state pension, pensioners are also entitled to other benefits funded through taxation, such as pension credit, but expenditure on these “pensioner benefits” is not significant in the grand scale.
The government has estimated that increasing the state pension age from 67 to 68 seven years ahead of schedule from 2037 would save £74bn by 2045/46, compared with the currently legislated timetable.
Might a future government be tempted to do so?
The government is yet to confirm plans to make the pension age 68 from 2037. However, there are pressures on ministers to be even more aggressive on state pension age increases.
This week, a rightwing think-tank chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, a former minister, proposed radical plans to increase the UK state pension age to 75 within 15 years.
The Centre for Social Justice said this timetable would ensure that the burden of paying for the state pension did not fall too heavily on those of working age. However, the CSJ said the plan would only work if older people were given more support to stay in work, including access to retraining, flexible working and tackling ageism in the workplace.
Will I have to wait until the age of 75?
The Department for Work and Pensions said this week that the CSJ proposals do not represent government policy. The government has also committed to seek to provide a minimum of 10 years’ notice for individuals affected by changes to their state pension age.