John Cridland's report on the state pension age may have offered little in the way of surprises but it has provoked a number of warnings the government has its work cut out to make any of the proposed changes a success.
The report by the former head of the CBI - who was appointed to provide an independent review of the state pension age in March 2016 - has proposed those under the age of 45 may have to work a year longer than they currently expect.
Cridland recommended bringing the change to the state pension age forward to 68 over a two-year period - starting in 2037 and ending in 2039.He also suggested there should be no move in the state pension age from 68 to 69 before 2047 at the earliest, the pension age should never rise by more than one year in each 10-year period and the triple-lock guarantee be ended in the next parliament.
Given the UK's increasing life expectancy, pensions experts were left unsurprised by the proposals to increase the state pension age, although the majority cautioned better planning would be required to account for the changes and some expressed concern the proposals were unfair.
"Set against a backdrop of an ageing society, costs for funding the state pension are predicted to rocket by 39% to £152bn a year by 2028," said Retirement Advantage pensions technical director Andrew Tully. "As such, it is no surprise some tough choices needed to be made.
"Many people believed the review may recommend more flexible access to the state pension at a reduced rate but this is not being taken forward at this point. Any change would have introduced significant complexity - particularly around helping people decide the optimal age to start taking their pension - and may have meant many people having less income in older age when they may need to help fund care costs, whether that is in the home or residential care."
Just group communications director Stephen Lowe said the state pension age provides a natural target for people, but warned changes could leave financial plans in "tatters".
He added: "Offering concessions and support for those unable to work past 67 recognises this problem but perhaps not the scale of it. Today, more than half of people are not in work in the year before they reach state pension age. In fact, one in four men and one in three women reaching state pension age today has not worked for five years or more."
‘Process not event'
While welcoming some of the proposals, former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann (pictured) highlighted concerns about those unable to work to state pension age.
She said: "Retirement can be a process rather than an event, with people cutting down gradually rather than suddenly stopping and more help for people to stay in the labour market longer is important.
"But many people genuinely cannot keep working and the state pension currently doesn't make allowance for this. Cridland highlights the vast differences in life expectancy across the UK - more than 15 years differential.
"Just as the Review recommends more flexibility is required by employers to facilitate part-time work for older people and help for the increasing numbers of workers who will need to care for elderly relatives, I believe more flexibility is also needed in the state pension system."
Altmann also restated her belief the triple lock should be abandoned after 2020.
'Serious attention needed'Longevity Centre-UK director David Sinclair said people would need to be reassured they can work longer if the state pension age is to keep rising. "This report might come as a shock for people in their 30s and 40s," he continued. "But with us living longer and longer lives, we must be prepared for a later retirement.
"If the government chooses to act on Cridland's recommendations to further increase the state pension age, we are going to need serious attention from policymakers and employers to ensure we are able to work longer."
He added: "With spending on public health budgets to be cut in real terms by more than £470m between 2015/16 and 2020/21, the government needs an ambitious plan to improve the health of the nation. Otherwise, there is a real risk any savings made through increasing the state pension age are lost through paying additional working age benefits to those unable to work due to poor health."
Old Mutual Wealth pensions expert Jon Greer also voiced concern for the younger generation, adding: "While average life expectancy is increasing, people's abilities in later life can be drastically different and these needs to be taken into account.
He continued: "Concessions will need to be made as some people may not be physically or mentally capable to work till these later ages. Cridland's recommendation of means-tested support for people who are unable to work because they are ill or caring for someone and allowing them some early access to pension income seems a sensible suggestion."
Joining London team
Previously at Old Mutual Wealth
Will introduce a cap on cost of care
Inertia has become a key policy mechanism