Guide to the UK state pension system

What is the basic state pension allowance?

The basic state pension is £102.15 a week for single people and married people who qualify with their own national insurance (NI) contributions. For a married person reliant on their partner's NI contributions, the pension is £61.20 a week.

To qualify, you need at least 30 years' NI contributions. If you have fewer than this, your weekly state pension is calculated on a pro rata basis.

£140 a week flat-rate state pension confirmed

Can I get more than that?

You can also get extra money from the state on top of your basic state pension. This additional pension is called the second state pension (S2P); it was previously called the state earnings-related scheme (SERPs).

It is a top-up on your basic allowance, worked out according to your salary and the number of years you have worked. In some cases it can be as much again as the basic state pension. The self-employed are not eligible for the S2P as they pay lower NI contributions.

How are state pension increases measured?

From next April, the state pension will increase alongside the consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation. It is currently based on the broader retail prices index (RPI) measure, which is historically the higher rate.

Will the state pension amount change?

Yes. There are proposals to change the current system to a single flat-rate state pension of £140 a week. This would not apply to existing pensioners and would also get rid of the means-testing system currently used when working out S2P - but it has not yet been confirmed.

Is it true that the retirement age is about to rise?

The women's state pension age will increase gradually to 65 by April 2020 to be in line with that for men. The age for men and women will increase to reach 67 by 2036 and 68 by 2046.

Will the pension age rise further?

The government now proposes to push the state pension age up further. This would involve women's state pension age rising faster, to 65 by November 2018, and that for both men and women then increasing to 66 by April 2020.

Those changes are not yet law, but are expected to go through, with further revisions to the timetable for increases to 67 and 68 also under discussion. The government wants to link state pension age to rising life expectancy.

Why is the state pension system crumbling?

Dr Ros Altmann, director general of Saga and pension crusader shares her views.

Five radical solutions to the pension crisis

"We have a pensions crisis in the UK and if we fail to deal with it, we will soon have a 'pensioners' crisis. State pension reform must remove mass means-testing and then private pension reform should consider re-naming private pensions and making them more flexible.

"Radical state pension reform is under consideration and needs to proceed urgently. However, a major reason people are not saving in a pension is that pensions have an 'image' problem. There have been so many scandals and disappointments with pensions people have now lost trust in them.

"Pension savings are falling because people no longer trust pensions and because new-style pensions are not offering them what they want. Younger savers do not want to tie their money up in a savings product that 'confiscates' their money for decades, which means they cannot touch it even if they really need it.

"The pensions industry needs to capture people's imagination, not lecture about doing 'the right thing'."