The government may bring forward an increase in the state pension age to 67 as part of radical plans designed to prolong the working life of millions, according to reports over the weekend.
Legistlation is already being pushed through parliament to raise the age at which men and women can claim a pension to 66 by 2020.
However, it is believed pressure is now buidling on ministers to raise the retirement age to 67 as early as 2026, the Observer reports.
Steve Webb, the pensions minister, told the paper further moves are necessary and the coalition government will rip up the former administration's timetable, under which the pension age was to be increased to 67 in 2036 and 68 by 2046.
He said: "The timescales for 67 and 68 are too slow. If it is 67 in the mid-2030s we will be going backwards in terms of share of your life in retirement. I mean the problem would be worse than 20 years before."
The raising of the state pension age to 67 in 2026 is the most likely option according to Whitehall sources. This would affect 8.1 million people in their 40s who would otherwise have expected to retire at 66, the Observer reports.
Webb said previous governments had failed to address a huge increase in life expectancy which is said to be rising by an average of two and a half years every decade.
"We are going to get some new figures next month. We get them every two years, and you just know what they are going to say," he said. "Everybody knows we are living longer. It is like an express train. I am even more convinced now than I was a year ago that we are running to standstill on all this stuff.
"In a world [where] you are going to live into your late 80s, and before we know it [into your] 90s, we think now we have got to move on these things.
"In a way, successive governments over the decades were so behind the curve behind all this. If you think of male pension age, it hasn't changed for a century. How much has life expectancy improved in a century? So, in a way, what is going on is a big dam that is finally breaking."
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