The retirement age in the UK could rise to 68 by the end of the 2030s in a move that would mean millions of Britons will have to work for longer.
The current state pension age for men and women retiring is 66, but is due to increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028.
A further increase to 68 was not due to happen until 2046, but ministers are now looking at bringing this change forward to as early as 2035, affecting those who are 54 and under today.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that no decision has yet been taken on changes to the state pension age, but a review into whether the rules around the age threshold remain appropriate will be published early this year.
The newspaper reports that Hunt is in favour of raising the retirement age to 68 in the mid-2030s, but Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride was pushing for 2042.
Last month the government began a statutory review of the state pension age with the findings to be published in May.
A DWP spokesperson said: “No decision has been taken on changes to the state pension age.
“The government is required by law to regularly review the state pension age and the second State Pension Age Review is currently considering, based on a wide range of evidence including latest life expectancy data and two independent reports, whether the rules around state pension age remain appropriate. The review will be published early this year.”
The government also recently confirmed that the triple lock will be used to uprate the state pension next year. The triple lock guarantees that state pensions increase by September’s inflation figure, wages or 2.5%, whichever is higher. The guarantee means that retirees are heading for a 10.1% increase to the state pension from next April.
‘No justification for a raise yet’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the charity “strongly” feels there is no justification for raising the state pension age yet and warned it could lead to a “difficult and impoverished later life” for many.
She said: “At Age UK we feel strongly that there is no justification for raising the state pension age at the moment, especially as we know that the people who will lose out the most are those unable to work due to ill health and caring responsibilities, as well as anyone who becomes unemployed in mid-life and then finds it impossible to get another job, due in part to a lack of training opportunities as well as rampant ageism in the labour market.
“As things stand, any decision by the government to make today’s 50-somethings wait longer for their state pension will consign hundreds of thousands of people to a difficult and impoverished later life.”
Elsewhere, pension experts said the government faces a “tricky balancing act” in supporting an ageing population.
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “We have fewer working age people supporting an increasing ageing population and costs are enormous. However, we also have to face the very real prospect that many people simply are not well enough to work until age 68.
“Added to this, rapid increases in state pension age have disrupted people’s financial planning.
“With the debate around the triple lock continuing to rage we need to have a proper thorough review of state pension to give people more certainty over how and when it is paid so they can plan ahead.”