MPs weigh early state pension access plan


An influential committee of MPs is to consider recommending early access to state pensions for both men and women early next week.

The Work and Pensions committee has been examining the issue as part of its investigation into the new state pension, and in particular, the changes to the state retirement age of women.

Campaigners from the Women Against State Pension Inequality group have argued that the increase to 67 has been poorly communicated and is unfair on women born in the 1950s, who have seen the most dramatic rise.

Committee member Craig Mackinlay says MPs will meet on Monday to consider remedies including giving both men and women early access to their state pension.

He says: “This is one of the measures that is in the pot that might satisfy the Waspi women, but then what do you do for the men?

“It’s quite a big conundrum, and we will be considering that in some depth ahead of the final report. But we are looking for a way to make everyone happy.”

Mackinlay says the full report is due to published ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday.

He says: “If you were to implement any major change, it would be hard to see much movement before April 2017.

“Even if this was considered, we would have to have a major reprogramming of Department for Work and Pensions systems, among everything else.”

It comes after the Government announced an independent review of the state pension age which experts have said could lead to more broad fundamental reforms.

Aegon regulatory strategy director Steven Cameron says Osborne could look to introduce change in next week’s Budget.

He says: “This could be the Chancellor’s next big surprise. Last year he brought us private pension freedoms. This Budget, his big announcement could be to announce state pension freedoms.

“While this would be a solution for those Waspi are campaigning for, it would seem wrong to offer the flexibility to just one group. It might be that the ability to take earlier was phased in, perhaps starting with those who are currently seeing their state pension age increase.

“This would help address any cashflow challenges. But longer term, allowing access to an actuarially reduced state pension from say age 60 would be a welcome pro-choice measure and also a potentially powerful vote winner.”

A spokeswoman for the Work and Pensions committee declined to comment, although members have previously spoken in favour of similar reforms.

In a House of Commons debate on the Waspi campaign in late February, Mackinlay’s fellow committee member John Glen proposed early access specifically for women born in the early 1950s.

He said: “Their pension would be reduced, but it would be a relatively small amount for two or three years, and it should be cost-neutral to the Government even taking into account the cost of the administrative changes involved.”