The state pension age formerly stood at 60 for women, and 65 for men. But, the Pensions Act 1995 enabled the government to increase this age, in order to create state pension age parity with men, whose state pension age was 65. The changes were reviewed in April 2016, bringing forward the timetable. The state pension age for both men and women is now rising, with plans for this to become 66 in October this year.
In a new analysis released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Friday, the government has estimated the total cost of reversing the state pension age changes for women back to 60 between now and 2025/26.
The estimated cost, rounded to the nearest £100 million and represented in 2018/2019 price terms, stands at £188.4 billion for women.
It would also cost £9.9 billion for the changes for women to be reversed in other pensioner benefits.
This would be offset by savings of £16.9 billion in working age benefits, bringing the total estimated cost to £181.4 billion.
It would cost a total of £33.8 billion for the changes to the state pension age for men over the period of 2010/11 to 2025/26 to be reversed.
A previous cost estimate by the DWP, published in 2016, said that the cost of undoing the changes for women between 2010/11 and 2020/21, would be £77 billion.
The DWP said the reason for the difference is due to the different time periods assessed, it did not include pensioner benefits, such as Pension Credit and Winter Fuel Payment, nor any savings from working age benefits, and didn’t assume any uprating of state pension payments.
Additionally, the former figure was calculated before the new state pension was introduced, was estimated in 2015/16 price terms, and the latter estimations are based on updated data and assumptions.
The campaign group Backto60 sought a judicial review into the changes to the state pension age for women, which took place last week at the High Court in London.
Michael Mansfield QC told the hearing: “Although the object of the exercise was intended to be equalisation of treatment, in fact what has happened is the reverse.”
Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argued that the changes had been intended to “equalise the state pension age between the sexes” and “to ensure intergenerational fairness as between those in receipt of state pensions and the younger taxpayers funding them.”
He added that the aim to increase the state pension age for both men and women to 66 was to “make pensions affordable … and to control government expenditure at a time of great pressure on public finances”.
Ahead of the judicial review, Joanne Welch, Campaign Director of Backto60, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk.
She said: “50s women have suffered lifelong inequity, like the pension gap, the pay gap, the maternity gap. It’s like, ‘Mind the Gap’.
“You’d have to be a 50s woman to actually understand these gaps.”
Ms Welch added: “Men our age have got pension pots at least five times the size of ours, and that’s because primarily, 50s women – not necessarily younger women of today – stayed at home, looked after families.
“They were housewives. I know that generally speaking younger women prefer to mix the home with their careers, whereas 50s women were actually brought up to play these roles.”
The Campaign Director said on behalf of Backto60: “Nobody is whinging about that – that’s just the way it was. They were housewives and they were mothers at home.
“Some young people will choose those roles to play and that’s their prerogative, but what I’m trying to say is [that] when you take those roles, you get a disadvantage.”
In a statement ahead of the hearing, a spokesperson for the DWP said: “The government decided more than 20 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality, and this has been clearly communicated.
“People are living longer so we need to raise the age at which all of us can draw a State Pension so it is sustainable now and for future generations.”