The man in charge of a pensions shake up which will see people working into their late 60s in future has been warned the move could spell years of misery for many Blackpool residents.
Former CBI director general John Cridland, who is leading a government review of the state pension age, visited the resort this week as part of a consultation into proposed changes.
Already people face a longer wait for retirement – with the state pension age set to be 67 for both men and women by 2018.
But in future it could rise further, with some predictions people will have to continue working into their 70s.
Mr Cridland, who had been invited to the resort by his brother Ken, a social activist on the Fylde, met with volunteers and workers from the Blackpool Unemployed Centre in Church Street before addressing a meeting of Blackpool Against The Cuts .
He was told many people in the town struggle to find jobs in their 50s, so will find it even tougher to find work in their 60s.
Mr Cridland said: “My responsibility is to think about people moving towards retirement age, that bridge between the labour market and the pension.
“Primarily I am thinking of people today in their 40s, who we need to get arrangements in place for when they retire in 20 years time.”
While the better off will have private pensions to help them, those who must rely solely on the state pension are generally on lower incomes, work in unskilled jobs or are on benefits.
And with Blackpool having the worst life expectancy in the country – 74 years for men and 79 for women – many may not even make it to retirement.
However nationally the average years spent on the state pension is now 21 years - compared to 12 years in the past.
John Cridland said: “There will be bits of Blackpool where lower life expectancy is the case, but there will be bits where that isn’t true.
“On average, people are living longer so the net result is we have to have a retirement age that is fair between generations and also has to be affordable to the country.
“And if the average age is going up, more people are living into their 80s and we can’t afford that.
“The obvious answer is those who can work for longer do so, but I worry about those who can’t work for longer, which is why I have come to Blackpool to find out about the situation in a challenging employment environment.”
Kim Melia, manager of the Blackpool Unemployed Centre warned many people would struggle to find work in their 60s if forced to wait for retirement.
She said: “We see people at 50 and 51, and no-one wants to employ them.
“Employers want people who can work 50 or 60 hours a week or have high-tech skills.
“So I don’t know how they will be able to get jobs in their 60s if they can’t get their pension.”
Centre chairman Dave Flanigan added: “Particularly in Blackpool there are a lot of seasonal, low skilled jobs and you do reach a point where someone is physically limited.”
The consultation continues until the end of December.