Government ignoring sick and injured workers in pension age increase plan

Research by Unite has discovered that the government is failing to take account of workers being forced out of their profession due to ill health and injury, as it prepares to increase the state pension age.


During Jeremy Hunt’s autumn budget the Conservative chancellor announced that he was bringing forward a review of the state pension age. The review is expected to report in early 2023.

However, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Unite has discovered that the government is failing to monitor or record the number of workers being forced to or choosing to leave their profession early.

No research

The DWP replied: “Following a search of our paper and electronic records, we have established that the information you requested is not held by this department.”

Workers' fear

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This revelation will send a shudder through the UK workforce. The message being given out by the government is don’t get sick or injured.

“Too many workers in highly physically demanding jobs are already being forced out of work before the state pension age. Extending the date when workers become eligible for their pension will make the situation even worse.

“Even more workers will find themselves in a cruel limbo world where they are too sick to work but too young to receive their pension.”

Ill health

The lack of research will be particularly alarming to workers in sectors of the economy including construction, lorry driving and healthcare where due to the nature of their work they are frequently forced to leave the industry prior to the existing state retirement age, due to ill health and injury.

The state pension age is currently 66 but under the government’s plans it is already set to increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and to 68 between 2044 and 2046. It is thought the review could bring these dates forward and/or increase the state pension age beyond 68 for younger workers.