Nearly one in five UK citizens 'to survive beyond 100'

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Nearly one in five people currently in the UK will live to see their 100th birthday, according to the government.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said its figures suggested 10 million people - 17% of the population - would become centenarians.

These are based on Office for National Statistics population projections and life expectancy estimates.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said the "staggering" figures brought home the need for pension reforms.

"Many millions of us will be spending around a third of our lives or more in retirement in the future," he said, adding that the government was determined to reform the pensions system to make it "sustainable for the long term".

The DWP estimates there will be at least 507,000 people aged 100 or over by 2066, including 7,700 people aged 110 or over - so-called super-centenarians.

Currently 11,800 people in the UK are aged 100 or over and fewer than 100 are over 110.

'New phase'

The government figures suggest that of the more than 10m who will go on to reach 100, 3m are currently aged under 16, 5.5m are aged between 16 and 50, and 1.3m are aged between 51 and 65.

About 875,000 are already aged over 65, it says.

line graph shows rising projected number of centenarians

The fear is that longer life spans will put an intolerable pressure on the pensions system and the NHS.

Dr Ros Altman, director general of the Saga Group, said pensions were not the only aspect of older life that needed to considered.

"Saving more and having a good pension is one thing - but there are also opportunities, and should be, for us to keep working longer, but not necessarily full time," she said.

Ros Altman, Director General of the Saga Group, on the benefits and disadvantages of living to 100.

"There is, in my view, a whole new phase of life which has been out there for grabs which still is available to us where we're not working full time. You're not suddenly stopping when you're in your 60s just because you've reached a particular chronological age.

"But you're thinking 'OK, what's my next career going to be?' - which is going to be part-time, let's say three days a week, four or five days a week off. But still earning some money, because at the end of the day, the state pension is not going to give you a decent lifestyle."

Bookmakers William Hill take numerous bets each year from people wishing to place a wager on themselves, or a loved one, becoming a centenarian.

"We would happily offer 100/1 for any newborn baby to live to 100 and 50/1 for any 50-year-old to reach that landmark," said spokesman Joe Crilly.

"Realistically, 5/1 would be the odds we would offer for a 95-year-old to reach three figures. Despite these new revelations, we are still happy to continue in our practice of deducting your age from 100 to devise your odds."

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