Home Finance State pension warning as flexible reforms may overlook 'root causes' behind disparities

State pension warning as flexible reforms may overlook 'root causes' behind disparities


An expert has warned suggested reforms to make the state pension fairer risk overlooking the root causes behind inequalities.

Tina Woods, founder and CEO of Business For Health, said proposals to vary state pension age by region may not get at the true issues behind disparities between different parts of the UK.

She told Express.co.uk: “It is a fundamental misdiagnosis of the wider issues at play when it comes to health disparities across the UK and represents but a short-term fix.

“This policy would act as a crutch for deprived areas, rather than addressing the root causes of lower life expectancy and supporting measures to close the gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest.

“We cannot rely solely on Government providing a safety net and such short-termist policies ignore the need for long-term system change.”

Ms Woods said a vital change needed to truly address this problem is for employers to promote the health of their workers.

She explained: “A key element in system change is mobilising the power of business to keep the workforce healthy and well for maximum productivity and support those in poor health to get better and stay in work.

“It is in businesses’ best interest to prioritise the health of their employees and workplace health incentives is critical.

“Businesses must acknowledge the significant value employees place on flexibility and take proactive steps to implement flexible arrangements to attract and retain talent.”

The issue of keeping people at work is also important for the state pension so these workers can contribute towards the state pension through their taxes.

Experts at Hargreaves Lansdown recently warned the UK is at a “tippint point” with a shrinking workforce to foot the bill for Government support such as the state pension.

Ms Woods said companies can promote the health of their employees by improving their workplaces to encourage people to come back into work.

She explained: “We must encourage people back to work by doing more to support individuals via innovative and forward-thinking workplace assistance and workplace-led health interventions.

“These changes to how we work are not about hindering business, but rather aligning business interests with health outcomes.

“This includes fostering healthier, more productive employees, meeting consumer health demands, preparing for health and workplace regulatory changes, and gaining reputational advantages by contributing positively to public health.”

She said there is “mounting evidence” of how a person’s health is connected to their wealth.

The expert warned: “It’s clear that health is integral to business success and enhancing society’s resilience requires collective efforts from both Government and businesses, with the latter poised to benefit significantly.

“The impact of the pandemic, coupled with a continuing cost of living crisis, hits the most vulnerable the hardest, and has widened health and wealth inequality gaps.”

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