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Smith hints at need to raise retirement age

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that for many UK workers, pensions is the issue which concerns them the most.

In his speech to Labour&#39s conference in Blackpool last week, the Prime Minister made a brief reference to the worries that many employees have about the quality of their pension on retirement.

Work & Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith hinted in his speech that the retirement age may have to be raised, saying if people want a decent standard of living in retirement, they must accept that they would have to work longer and save more.

Pensions dominated the agenda at the Labour conference alongside the war in Iraq and the private finance initiative as subjects that party members were most eager to debate.

A survey of delegates on the first night of the conference found occupational pensions was the second most important issue after public services and well ahead of Iraq or other matters.

Smith said: “As we are living healthier, longer lives and want a secure retirement, the arithmetic is inescapable. We must between us save more, work longer or both.

“We must change the present cliff-edge at the end of working life, where on Friday someone is a valued member of the workforce but by Monday they are shunted into retirement.

“This will mean extending choice and removing financial penalties that stand in people&#39s way.”

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