The Works and Pensions Secretary has refused to budge from the government’s stand over women’s pension reforms, but has assured to devise means to soften the pension reform blow.
In the debate over pensions reforms, Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith said yesterday he was willing to consider measures that could ease the transition to women’s higher retirement, but refused to delay the implementation of the proposed changes.
Mr. Smith said he was willing to consider proposals by MPs from any party to ease the transition, after facing flak from all corners of the house over the increase in women’s retirement age to 66 years by 2020, which many people complain as too big a jump from the current 60 years to be implemented this early.
The pensions secretary said he was “tempted” to look at other transitional arrangements, which could include other options such as providing extra income to women forced to wait for their pensions to start.
Rejecting the Labour’s proposal of deferring the decision to 2022, Mr. Smith argued that delaying implementing the decision will cost the taxpayer £10 billion. This would be an “unfair financial burden borne disproportionately by the next generation”, he reasoned.
The higher retirement age for women is six years earlier than it would be under the Labour and leaves thousands of women waiting longer than expected to claim their pensions.
MPs had warned before that hundreds of women, who are in their late fifties, will now have to wait up to two more years and will find the pension bill discriminatory.
However, the pension secretary’s views were supported by Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“On the one hand, the government knows that if they give ground on the timeframe they will be on a slippery slope so they are reluctant to deviate. They will stick to the original timeframe”, said Mr. McPhail.
“However, they are clearly mindful of the detriment experience for certain groups of individuals. I think they may introduce some kind of welfare extension, such as job seekers’ allowance or a pension credit, perhaps on a means-tested basis”, he added.
Director General of SAGA, Ms Ros Altmann said the government will act positively in this regard.
“Clearly there is so much opposition on government benches to this. They understand how unfair it is and they want something different to be done. But the government is looking for a solution in a complex way instead of a simple way”, she said.
“The hold-up may have something to do with the public sector negotiations”, she added.