Get set to retire at 66: Tories announce longer working life to fill Labour's financial black hole

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The Tories will raise the retirement age to 66 if they win power to pay for Gordon Brown's spending spree and plug the black hole in Britain's finances.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne will today unveil plans to make people work longer from 2016 - ten years earlier than Labour had planned.

The measure will raise £13billion a year to help slash the deficit.

A Tory government would also hold a review of the retirement age that could speed up further rises - potentially ushering in a state pension age for both men and women of 68 as early as 2020.

Labour's profligacy will take the blame for forcing people to work longer. Half a million men now aged 58, who had expected to retire when they reach 65, will now have to go on for an extra year.

Working women will be hit even harder. Those who are now 58 would have been able to quit at 61 under Labour's plans.

They too would be forced to work until they are 66.

The scheme will form a centrepiece of the Shadow Chancellor's keynote address to the Tory conference in Manchester today.

Details emerged as:

  • David Cameron was forced to tell his party to stop arguing about the EU after further rifts opened in Tory ranks over the European constitution,

  • Mr Osborne announced plans to create 60,000 new jobs by introducing £250million of tax breaks for new firms set up under a Tory government,

  • London Mayor Boris Johnson became the darling of conference and provoked claims that he was seeking to set himself up as the leader of the Tory right, and,

  • The Tories unveiled a back-to-work scheme to put jobs at the heart of the general election campaign.

  • Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne both yesterday vowed to make curing Britain's debt crisis one of the two key planks of their programme for government. The other will be saving jobs.

    The pensions pledge - which the Tories are well aware will be unpopular - is by far the biggest cost-cutting measure yet announced. It will raise more than £130billion to plug the deficit over the ten years after 2016.

    By raising the retirement age Mr Osborne will be able to honour his party's pledge to increase the value of the basic state pension in line with earnings rather than prices.

    Women would have been able to retire at 63 in 2016 under Labour's existing plans to lift their state pension age from 60 until it is the same as for men. Like men, they will be forced to work until they are 66.

    The measure will provide further ammunition for the Tories to counter claims that they have not produced detailed policy commitments in the run up to the next election.

    It is likely to be welcomed by pensions experts.

    The Pensions Policy Institute said recently that 'raising the state pension age could play an important part in making the state pension system better.'

    Mr Osborne will tell voters it is one of a number of tough measures that will be needed to get Britain's finances back on track. Yesterday, Mr Cameron described the deficit as 'the biggest crisis facing all our country'.

    Mr Osborne will tell the conference that raising the retirement age to pay for higher pension payments and plug the debt 'is another one of those trade-offs any honest government has to confront'. continues here

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