Number of state pension claimants falls by 1.6%

The number of people receiving the state pension was 12.4 million in August 2020, down by 1.6 per cent, or 200,000 people, on the same month a year prior, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This decrease was attributed to the increase in state pension age to above 65 for both men and women, with the minimum standing at 65 years and 10 months in August 2020 and reaching 66 years in October.

The figures also showed that 1.6 million people were receiving the new state pension in August 2020, an increase of 340,000 on a year earlier.

The average weekly payment for people receiving state pension was £154.74, an increase of £6.12 since August 2019, while the average weekly payment for the new state pension was £164.10 as higher payments for women helped to partially even out the disparity between genders.

For example, under the new state pension women received an average of £159.2 per week, compared to £141.69 under the pre-2016 system.

More than half (55 per cent) of people claiming benefits were above minimum pension age, or 12.5 million of a total 22.8 million.

Almost a third (30 per cent) of state pension age claimants were claiming more than one benefit, compared to 32 per cent of working age claimants.

The data showed that there were 82,000 fewer Pension Credit claimants in August 2020 as the number receiving the benefit dropped to 1.5 million, with this downward trend attributed to the rising state pension age and the introduction of the new state pension in April 2016.

Interactive Investor head of pensions and savings, Becky O’Connor, said: “Increases to the state pension age are saving the government money, but the personal cost of these rises can be significant for those due to retire.

“The state pension makes up a large proportion of retirement income for those who receive it. It is likely this proportion will grow larger, as more people retire with less generous defined contribution pensions, rather than final salary schemes.”

She also noted that “our working lives are getting longer, but this is not necessarily aligned to a rise in healthy life expectancy, which is falling, particularly for women”, adding that this meant “state pension age rises will require more people who don’t have access to a work or personal pension to work through age-related ill health”.

O’Connor concluded: “For workers, this serves to underscore the need to contribute as much as possible to a workplace or personal pension while you are in employment, to reduce your individual dependence on the state pension when you retire.”

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