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Government to proceed with pension age reform

The Government is to proceed with its plans to raise the state pension age for women from 60 to 65, despite cross-party opposition on the matter.

Earlier this week, MPs voted to give a second reading to the Pensions Bill by 302 votes to 232.

Under the Bill, the state pension age for women will now rise to 65 by November 2018 to equal that for men, before increasing to 66 for both sexes by 2020.

In 2007, the previous Labour Government followed the recommendations of Lord Turner's Pensions Commission and agreed to achieve equalisation by April 2020.

However, the Coalition accelerated the plan on the grounds that people are living longer and state pension costs have become unsustainable at their current levels.

Speaking during a Commons debate on the issue, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said: ‘Responsible government is not always easy government. It involves commitment, tough decisions and a willingness to stay the course.

‘We will not change from that, we will stay the course. We will secure our children's future. I recognise we need to implement this fairly and manage the transition smoothly.’

He conceded that a ‘relatively small number of women’ would be particularly affected by the changes, before adding that he was ‘willing to work to get this transition right’.

Yet Ros Altmann, director general of the over-50s organisation Saga, warned that the Government could face a legal challenge if the Bill remains unaltered.

‘Ministers must listen to reason on this issue,’ she said. ‘The current plans are unfair and may, indeed, be illegal in public law terms, since they clearly do not give women adequate notice.’