The Government has rejected calls for a series of reviews into the impact of the new single tier state pension, warning further in-depth analysis would see implementation of the reforms delayed.
Under plans outlined in January this year, the Government will replace the current means-tested system with a single-tier state pension for future retirees from April 2016.
The new state pension is expected to be worth around £144 a week in today’s prices. Accrued rights will be protected and people who have previously contracted-out of the old state pension will see their single-tier amount reduced to reflect the fact they paid lower National Insurance.
The number of qualifying years a person will need to build up in order to get the full single tier amount has been increased from 30 to 35.
Labour has not opposed the reforms but wants the Government to instigate reviews to determine:
- whether women born on or after 6 April 1951 should be included within the scope of the new state pension arrangements;
- the costs and benefits of phasing the transition to a 35-year full pension requirement via an interim requirement of 30 years;
- the costs and benefits of permitting women within 15 years of state pension age as at 6 April 2016 to retain their accrued rights.
Labour wants each of the reviews to be conducted within six months of Royal Assent of the Pensions Act.
Pensions minister Steve Webb rejected each proposal and warned conducting the reviews in the timescale set out by Labour would see the implementation of the reforms delayed.
Webb said: “The idea seems to be that we complete a review in the autumn of 2014 and then perhaps do something about the findings in primary legislation.
“The bill will take a year to go through Parliament and we have an election in 2015, so we would have to whizz something through by Easter 2015.
“There is no way we could then deliver the changes in April 2016, especially if we conduct the other two reviews that the opposition want as well.
“The review proposed in the new clause would delay the bill.”