Pension Bill report stage ends

31 March 2011

The Pensions Bill completed its report stage – further line by line examination – in the House of Lords on Wednesday 30 March. The House voted against amendments that would have kept the existing timetable to equalise the state pension age for men and women to age 65 – rather than bring it forward as the Bill proposes – and the slower rate for raising the pension age for women to 65 to bring it in line with men.

There were three votes on amendments.

Third reading – a final chance to amend the Bill – is scheduled for 27 April.

Moving the group of amendments to Clause 1: Equalisation of and increase in pensionable age for men and women, Lord McKenzie of Luton explained that its purpose was to reduce the impact of these provisions in the Bill on women. ‘The Government's proposals affect nearly 5 million people, about 2.6 million of them women. Of those 2.6 million, 1.5 million women will have to wait a year longer for their pension, of which 500,000 will have to wait more than a year, including 300,000 for more than 18 months and 33,000 for exactly two years. Those first affected will have just five years' notice,’ he said.

Speaking to the amendments, Baroness Hollins of Heigham said the proposals in the Bill would mean the rate for raising women’s pension age would increase abruptly. ‘Women before 2016 are seeing their pension age rise gradually, in steps of one year for every two years, suddenly from 2016 the rate at which their pension age is deferred extends, so that they have to wait three years instead of two and four years instead of three,’ she said. ‘It means that Susan, born in March 1953, will reach pension age at 63 in 2016. Her cousin Barbara, born a year later in March 1954, will reach pension age in March 2020, when she will be 66 – one year younger, and she waits a further four years for her pension.’

Baroness Bakewell also spoke in support of the amendments. She said the proposals in the Bill required ‘slower and fairer introduction.’

The amendments were defeated by 214 votes to 226.

The House of Lords also voted against Amendment 3, tabled by Baroness Greengross, which sought to prevent women born between 6 October 1953 and 5 April 1955 from having to work more than one extra year before receiving their state pension. The amendment was defeated by 203 votes to 215.

A group of amendments that sought to reduce the impact of bringing forward the date equalising the state pension age for men and women on pension income on people in the late fifties by allowing the age of eligibility for pension credit to track the existing timetable for the equalising the pension age.

Speaking to the amendments, Baroness Drake said: ‘Pension credit in 2011 is £137.35 per week for a single person, so a deferment of up to two years can result in a loss of £15,000 for those affected. Even on a deferral of one year, the loss of income is still substantial to those concerned. Amendments 11 and 14 would ensure that both men and women who are presently in their late 50s and who are likely to be the beneficiaries of pension credit do not experience the markedly higher loss of lifetime pension income that would otherwise occur.’

The amendments were defeated by 153 votes to 195.

Further information 

The Pensions Bill, which implements recommendations from three recent pensions reviews, brings forward the date equalising the state pension age for men and women, and speeds up the timetable for the for increasing the state pension age to 66. It also amends the requirements for automatically enrolling workers into a workplace pension scheme due to come into effect from 2012 onwards.

The Bill completed committee stage in the Lords on Tuesday 15 March.

Report stage gives Members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments to a Bill.

Image: iStockphoto 

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