More than one-in-three back state pension early access

Tom Selby
14 September 2021

•    More than one-in-three people aged between 50 and state pension age (66) would consider taking their state pension early at a lower rate if the option was offered, new research reveals*
•    The Government has faced calls in some quarters to provide more flexibility in the state pension system to make it fairer for those with lower life expectancies
•    However, allowing people to access the state pension early would create extra complexity and potentially lead to a short-term drain on Treasury finances
•    The full flat-rate state pension is currently worth £179.60 per week, while the basic state pension pays £137.60 per week

Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, comments: “Increases in the state pension age – particularly those that affected 1950s-born women – have been hugely controversial in recent years and sparked debate about the fairness of the current system.

“In particular, significant differences in life expectancy in different parts of the country have led to concerns the least well off are losing out. For example, according to official data someone born in Blackpool can expect to live, on average, a decade less than someone born in Westminster**.

“Allowing early state pension access at a reduced rate would potentially help address this unfairness. What’s more it could be popular, with more than a third of people aged 50 to 66, the current UK state pension age, saying they would consider this if it was offered as an option by the Government. Offering this option could also be cost neutral for the Treasury over the long-term.

“However, enabling early access would add extra complexity to the system and might result in people choosing to get their state pension as early as they can, without considering the impact on their retirement plans over the longer-term.

“This could also have implications for the Treasury, which would potentially face a short-term cashflow problem if lots of people decided to take their state pension before age 66.”

*Independent survey of 1,071 people aged 50 to 66 carried out by findoutnow on 2nd Sep 2021: Find Out Now - Rapid, affordable & precise consumer insight - Find Out Now
Question asked: The current full state pension for people reaching age 66 is £179.60 a week. If you could start receiving your state pension earlier than age 66 but at a lower amount based on your individual age, would you consider doing that?




Not sure













** Life expectancy for local areas of the UK - Office for National Statistics (

Tom Selby
Head of Retirement Policy

Tom Selby is a multi-award-winning former financial journalist, specialising in pensions and retirement issues. He spent almost six years at a leading adviser trade magazine, initially as Pensions Reporter before becoming Head of News in 2014. Tom joined AJ Bell as Senior Analyst in April 2016. He has a degree in Economics from Newcastle University.

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