Belfast Telegraph

Women hit by state pension age hike 'can't expect doable policy solution'

Women affected by hikes to their state pension age should not expect a "doable" policy solution, the Work and Pensions Secretary has told MPs.

Hopes had been raised that a compromise solution could be reached for women who have been taken by surprise by their state pension age being raised by up to six years from when they had expected to retire.

But speaking to the Work and Pensions Committee, Stephen Crabb said: "As far as I can see there isn't a policy solution emerging out of all these intense discussions that people are coalescing around.

He said: "I completely understand women who feel that they were taken a bit by surprise," but he added: "I don't see that there's a doable policy solution."

Concerns have been raised for the affected women, born in the 1950s, and the idea of a cost-neutral option for them to take their pensions earlier, at a reduced rate, had been mooted as a possible solution.

But Mr Crabb said it would be "impossible" to somehow unwind changes going back for more than 20 years.

He said: "It is just fiscally impossible. And I think it's irresponsible of anyone in this House of Commons to try to pretend and lead these women on into thinking that somehow there's an easy decision to be made."

Mr Crabb said that when he had discussed the possibility of the cost-neutral option of the women drawing their state pensions early, "they said well that's not actually what they want".

In April, Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann said she was examining ways to deal with the issue.

"There is nobody more than me who would like to help, I can assure you," the minister told BBC Radio Four's Moneybox.