Changes to the State Pension Age - July 2017
I absolutely agree that people who have worked hard all their lives deserve security in their retirement. That is why I am pleased that the Government has applied a 'triple lock' to the basic State Pension, which is now £1,100 per year higher than in 2010. For those reaching State Pension age after April 2016, a new State Pension is being introduced at a single, flat rate of £155.65, which will also be triple locked. All those women affected by the 2011 State Pension age changes will receive this new pension, which is much fairer to women than the current system and will mean 650,000 women will receive an average of £8 per week more in the first 10 years.
Equalising the State Pension age was necessary to eliminate gender inequality. This was done in 2011 by the previous Government. Following sharp increases in life expectancy projections, the Government had to accelerate this process slightly in 2011 by eighteen months to secure the sustainability of the system.
The Government did listen to concerns raised at the time of the 2011 adjustment, and I am pleased that as a result the maximum increase was capped at 18 months. That represented a £1.1 billion concession nationwide, helping those women affected with the transition to a higher State Pension age.
Higher life expectancy does mean that as a society we will have to adjust to slightly longer working lives, but it is right to ensure at the same time that people have security and dignity when they do retire. That is why the Government will continue to provide unprecedented support for people in later life, including the triple lock and maintaining universal benefits such as the Winter Fuel Payment. The Government did adjust its proposals in 2011 to mitigate the impact on those worst affected by the State Pension age changes, and I do not think there is a need to revisit the issue.
I did not attend the opposition debate on 24 February, and you can see some of the excellent points that were made on both sides of the house by following this link: http://bit.ly/1Riibsg. However, I do think that the Government has made the right choice on this issue.