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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK
Retirement at 70 plan mulled
Pension march in London
Campaigners want pensions linked to earnings
Plans to give people a legal right to work beyond the age of 65 are being considered by the government.

Andrew Smith, Work and Pensions Minister, said there would be an announcement on the issue shortly.

Longer life expectancy and lower birth rates have caused a pensions crisis and some economic think-tanks have recommended a higher retirement age.

Mr Smith said raising the state pension age was "unfair" and this was about giving people the choice to work on.

Trade unions have previously voiced their opposition to the plans, fearing workers could be forced to stay on indefinitely.

The question is how we enable people to choose to continue working longer if they want to
Andrew Smith
Work and Pensions Minister
Some businesses are also worried they would have to keep on staff who were no longer able to carry out their full duties.

Thousands of pensioners joined protests nationwide on Saturday about the pensions crisis and some have raised objections to any increase in the state pension age.

Mr Smith told BBC News: "We wouldn't raise the state pension age, that would be unfair.

"The question is how we enable people to choose to continue working longer if they want to.

"We've had extensive consultation and the government will be reaching a decision shortly."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said: "Ministers across government are considering all the options for retirement age."

EU ruling

The Sunday Times claimed to have obtained a leaked cabinet paper setting out the plans.

It says the change will be introduced in 2006 and would give full employment rights to workers who want to stay on beyond 65.

The paper says the move comes in response to an EU directive which outlaws age discrimination and stops firms imposing compulsory retirement ages.

The government is already offering incentives to people who choose to delay collecting their state pension.


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