ALMOST 35,000 people in Bolton will bear the ‘burden’ of austerity if plans to increase the retirement age go ahead, according to a Labour frontbencher.

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, met with pensioners in Westhoughton last weekend to discuss the Government’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 66 to 68 from 2037.

The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP was joined by Julie Hilling, the former MP for Bolton West, at the John Holt Centre on Saturday.

Analysis by the Labour Party says that 34,500 across the Bolton borough who are currently aged under 48 will be affected by the rise, which will result in more than seven million people having to work longer.

Labour has criticised this increase and is instead considering a flexible retirement age as part of the party’s Commission on Pensions.

Mrs Abrahams said: “It was great to visit Bolton West today, one of Labour’s top target seats for the next General Election.

“Thanks to the Tories increasing the State Pension age, over seven million people will be forced to work longer, at the same time that evidence indicates life expectancy has stalled in some places and is reducing in others.

“The Tories must explain to the tens of thousands of people in their constituencies why the burden of Tory austerity is being pushed onto them, whilst corporations and the richest individuals receive tax breaks.

“Labour will leave the State Pension age at 66 while we look at the latest evidence.

“This tour will help us to better understand people’s experience of the pension system, with a view to guaranteeing a secure and healthy retirement for the many, not just the few.”

Ms Hilling, who was beaten narrowly by Conservative Chris Green at the last two elections, added: “I was really pleased to welcome Debbie to Westhoughton today, it has been a brilliant opportunity for discussion of the important issues around state pensions which impacts on so many people.

“Bolton West is a target seat for Labour in the next general election and events like this remind us what a difference a Labour government would make for the people of Bolton.”

Last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Johnson Fold during a tour of target seats in the North West.