UK - Iain Duncan Smith has said there will be no u-turn on controversial proposals to raise the women's state pension age to 66 by 2020.
However, the secretary of state for work and pensions (pictured), hinted the coalition would be open to later amendments which would help soften the blow for women particularly affected.
In the second reading of the Pensions Bill last night, Duncan Smith said there would be no change to the current schedule, which equalises men and women's SPAs at 65 in 2018 and increases them together to 66 in 2020.
When asked repeatedly if the government would be open to amendments to assist women aversely affected by the Bill, Duncan Smith would only answer that the coalition has no plans to alter the schedule for reform today, but would "look at transitional arrangements" later.
In response to questioning from Labour pensions spokeswoman Rachel Reeves, in which she asked if the coalition would consider a compromise of raising the state pension more slowly, but to a higher age eventually, Duncan Smith said:
"If the honourable lady wants to amend the Bill in that way at the committee stage, so be it."
Opposition to the Bill, which will lead to some women born in 1954 having to wait for up to two more years to collect their pensions, had been growing since the Bill's first reading nine weeks ago.
Yesterday, the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions denied pressure from the unions and the opposition would force the government to alter the Bill.
National Association of Pension Funds chief executive Joanne Segars said: "The government needed to revisit this issue to try and iron out the unfairness, and it's disappointing they haven't listened. Telling someone in their late 50s that they'll have to work another two years is out of order, and leaves many struggling with the switch into retirement.
"The state pension age for women should be brought into sync with men's. But women are bridging six years and so need more time to catch up. For 330,000 women the process has to become more manageable. The government must step forward quickly with details on how it will help them.
"Ultimately we are all living longer and that means more time spent at work. The trade-off for working longer must be a better state pension. We need a more generous, simpler pension that sets a clear foundation for retirement."
Barnett Waddingham consultant Malcolm McLean added: "The government will be relieved that they managed to win the vote (by 302 votes to 232) not least because the Bill contains provision for it to make the adjustments to the auto-enrolment rules recommended by the independent review.
"But the issue which dominated the debate of the proposed accelerated increase in the state pension age for women to 66 and the perceived unfairness of it has clearly not gone away and remains to be resolved. The secretary of state's undertaking that he will look at ways to help the position of those women currently in their fifties though transitional arrangements was welcomed but was vague in the extreme as to exactly how this will be achieved.
"I suspect this will remain a festering sore if an acceptable solution is not found and could yet bring the Bill to grief during its passage through the remaining stages of the parliamentary procedure."
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