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Press comment: Falling healthy life expectancy for women pours fuel on state pension age debate


If you are covering the ONS statistics released today about the changing healthy life expectancies for men and women and their impact that these have on the state pension age, please see the following comment from Ian Browne, pension expert at Quilter:

Ian Browne“ONS statistics released today which show healthy life expectancy for women is falling, with women living 19 years in poor health, pours fuel on an already blazing debate about the recently increased age at which women can access their state pension. Just last month a group of women won a judicial review into the increased pension age for women which is set reach age 66 in 2020.

“According to the ONS, a women could potentially suffer in poor health with no means of working for around three years before they are able to access the state pension at the new age of 66. Considering the average life expectancy of a women in the UK is now 82.9 years, the statistics show that they potentially start to suffer with ill health 19 years before they die at the age of 63, three years before they are able to access any state pension. This creates a situation where hundreds of thousands of people struggle financially because they are unable to carry on working but are years away from accessing their pension.

“The statistics clearly highlight that retirement needs are very individualised and a one size fits all approach is very crude. However, conversely as a society we should also look to embrace the principle of everyone being treated equally and fairly – so a regression to different state pension ages for men and women is not appropriate. But that doesn’t mean the Government can bury its head in the sand and ignore this problem because they deem that there are no better solutions. A more flexible approach could be taken with the state pension where we have a standard state pension age with a standard benefit level. Everyone could then have the option to receive a reduced state pension for early access and an increased state pension for late access. This would give people who are in need the ability to avoid a situation where they might be too ill to work but only slightly too young to access their state pension.

“Despite the incessant noise of Brexit leaving little to no time for any other debate, there is a social care crisis silently brewing in the background which desperately needs addressing. Considering the Government’s social care white paper is still yet to be published despite numerous delays, it’s clear that it is not at the forefront of anyone’s mind right now. However, we are in desperate need of a sustainable social care policy and the pressure on the state pension and company pensions won’t be going anywhere. The burden remains on policymakers to provide practical policy solutions to tackle the issues an ageing society brings.

“With that in mind, people need to take how they intend to fund their later life into their own hands. It is now more important than ever to build up your own personal savings throughout your life as early as possible to help fund any necessary care if you fall ill before you can access the state pension. Similarly, these statistics highlight the risk of the UK’s ‘protection gap’. A critical illness product could provide someone with a monetary lifeline if health problems force them to retire before they can access their pension.”

For more information contact

Tim Skelton-Smith02380 916 99807824 145

Notes to editors:

About Quilter plc:

Quilter plc is a leading wealth management business in the UK and internationally, helping to create prosperity for the generations of today and tomorrow.

Quilter plc oversees £114.9 billion in investments (as at 31 March 2019).

It has an adviser and customer offering spanning: financial advice; investment platforms; multi-asset investment solutions; and discretionary fund management.

The business is comprised of two segments: Advice and Wealth Management and Wealth Platforms.

Advice and Wealth Management encompasses the financial planning network, Intrinsic; Quilter Private Client Advisers; the discretionary fund management business, Quilter Cheviot; and Quilter Investors, the Multi-asset investment solutions business.

Wealth Platforms includes the Old Mutual Wealth UK Platform; Old Mutual International, including AAM Advisory in Singapore; and the Old Mutual Wealth Heritage life assurance business.

The Quilter plc businesses are being re-branded to Quilter over a period of approximately two years:

  • The Multi-asset business is now Quilter Investors
  • Intrinsic to Quilter Financial Planning
  • The private client advisers business is now Quilter Private Client Advisers
  • The UK Platform to Quilter Wealth Solutions
  • The International business to Quilter International
  • The Heritage life assurance business to Quilter Life Assurance
  • Quilter Cheviot will retain its name.


This press release is for journalists only and should not be relied upon by financial advisers or customers.

Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back any of the amount originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of overseas investments to rise or fall.

This communication is issued by Quilter plc.  Registered office: Millennium Bridge House, 2 Lambeth Hill, London EC4V 4AJ, United Kingdom. Registered number: 6404270.  Registered in England.