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Dutch group seeks solution for early retirement stalemate

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The Dutch government should consider offering workers in demanding jobs the option of tax-friendly saving for early retirement, rather than limiting the increase of the official retirement age for them, a group of experts has suggested.

The experts included representatives from pensions providers APG and PGGM, trade union FNV, pensions think-tank Netspar and the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB). They were attempting to break the stalemate between unions and the government regarding the official retirement age for the state pension, AOW.

Whereas the unions have insisted on keeping the AOW age at 66, social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has stated that he would only compromise as part of an overall agreement about pensions reform.

In addition, previous governments have argued that it would be difficult to define physically and mentally difficult jobs when confronted with the issue.

Currently, the Dutch AOW retirement age stands at 66 years and three months, similar to the official retirement age in many other countries.

However, the AOW age is due to rise to 67 and three months in 2022. It will subsequently rise in line with life expectancy improvements.

The experts group proposed to compensate the most vulnerable low income groups through fiscal benefits to speed up their ability to accrue a pension for early retirement.

“Currently, workers on low income often have fewer options to save for early retirement in a tax-friendly way,” the group said.

It said it expected that, for the longer term, the social partners would develop additional options for retraining older workers.

In the experts’ opinion, solutions for the retirement problem of people in demanding jobs needed to be found within individual industry sectors.

They suggested creating incentives to limit the severity of occupations, as well as tailor-made arrangements to enable workers to phase their retirement ahead of the AOW age.

The working group also suggested encouraging pension saving among self-employed workers by making their current fiscal entitlements subject to the level of their pensions accrual.

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