The British government on Thursday released a plan to gradually raise the retirement age to 68 and link benefits with earnings.

Under the plan, the retirement age will be raised from 65 to 66 in 2024; to 67 in 2034 and 68 in 2044.

The government also plans to restore the link between state pensions and people's earnings by 2012, if financial conditions permit, it said.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher removed the link in 1980, saying the pension system was too expensive.

"I believe[the plan]can lay the foundation for a new and lasting consensus on a long-term solution of the pensions challenge we face as a country," Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton told the House of Commons.

The changes are based on recommendations set out by a panel appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002.

The report warned that by 2050, the number of pensioners in Britain wouldincrease by 50 per cent, and that roughly 10 million people aren't saving enough money for retirement.

A number of European countries have already raised or plan to raise the retirement. Italy raised it to 60 from 57, Belgium will boost it to 60 from 58, while Germany plans to hike it two years to 67.

The United States is gradually raising the age to 67.