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Should the States revisit the pension age?

Should the States revisit the pension age?

Friday 24 March 2023

Should the States revisit the pension age?

Friday 24 March 2023


Deputy Mark Helyar has denied wanting to put the State pension age up to beyond 70-years-old, but he has said it should be looked at again, while a fellow politician who has worked in the physically demanding construction industry has suggested that anyone who thinks it should be raised is "completely detached from reality".

Having completed a carpentry apprenticeship after leaving secondary school, Deputy Marc Leadbeater worked for his father's construction firm before branching out on his own.

Since being elected to the States in 2016, Deputy Leadbeater has maintained friendships with people within the construction industry, telling Express that asking people in that sector to keep working beyond their 70th birthday would not be a good idea.

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Pictured: Deputy Marc Leadbeater has experience working in the construction sector and said those in the industry couldn't be expected to keep working past 70.

The issue of retirement age came up during the Scrutiny Management Committee Hearing on Tuesday afternoon looking at the Government Work Plan.

While discussing the island's financial deficit and the ability to borrow money and fund vital public services or new infrastructure, Deputy Gavin St Pier referenced the drivers for deficit and demographics before asking Deputy Helyar if he thinks Guernsey "ought to be revisiting our retirement age again?"

Deputy Helyar replied in the affirmative: "Yes, I do. Yes absolutely."

Deputy Helyar did not say the island's State retirement age should be increased and when Express asked him to clarify what he meant he said: “I was asked whether the issue of pensions needs to be looked at again and I agreed it should. I did not at any time say it should go beyond 70.  

"If it is reconsidered it is an ESS responsibility falling within its mandate, not P&R. I also made the point several times that we will have 5500 more pensioners in 16 years time and need to make financial provisions for their pensions and elderly care."

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Pictured: Guernsey's State pension age - or retirement age - is being increased incrementally until 2049 when it will be 70 for everyone.

Whether the retirement age is raised or simply revisited, many people have reacted negatively to the potential of working beyond 70, with some concerned they will not physically manage to do so.

Deputy Leadbeater said it is something Deputy Helyar could discuss with those working in physically demanding industries if he was interested in revisiting the issue.

"...he’s welcome to come down the White Rock, or to the meat draw with me and explain to all the fishermen, scaffolders, stone masons etc just how that is supposed to be physically possible."

Deputy Leadbeater said in comparison with France, where people are rioting over the chance of their retirement age being put up to 64, Guernsey people are already working for far longer.

"Ours at 70 will be the highest retirement age in Europe, and the French are kicking off at the prospect of a rise from 62 to a mere 64. Anyone thinking that a further increase in our pension age is even worth considering is completely detached from reality." 

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