Pensions Secretary not pinned down on upper age limit to state pension

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Iain Duncan Smith refused to say there would be an upper limit on the state pension age in a heated exchange over the Government's new review.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said the Government had launched the review to ensure pensions remain affordable for future generations.

But he failed to answer Shadow pensions secretary Owen Smith when pushed in the House of Commons over concerns that workers will have to wait until they are aged 80 to retire.

Mr Smith, who raised the urgent question, said: "I think people travelling to work this morning will be shocked to hear of yet another review of the retirement age in the immediate future of when they can claim their state pension, with the clear implication that, as was the case of the women's state pension, they intend to increase it further and faster than we or the people of Britain were expecting."

He added: "Could you try and clarify exactly what his government's long-term economic plan is for pensioners?

"Is it, as was the case with the botched reforms of the women's pensions and as was implied in the terms of reference for this review, that the public can expect the Government to ratchet up the retirement age much faster than expected?

"Can the minister tell us what he thinks the upper limit is for the state pension age, is it 75, 76, 77 is it 80?"

In between repeated angry interruptions from backbenchers, Mr Duncan Smith said it was a "pathetic" effort from the opposition, who had previously backed the need for reviews into government pensions.

"That was so pathetic as a response to an (urgent question) that was asked from an opposition that has no policy, jumps around opposing everything, racking up spending commitments - no wonder they haven't a hope of hell of ever being in government," he said.

He emphasised that the statutory review would be independently led by CBI director general John Cridland into the state pension age past 2028.

In his opening statement, he told the Commons: "This review is part of the Government's reforms to pensions to ensure they are affordable for the long term but it's right we recognise those who have reached the pension age who have worked hard, done the right thing, and provided for their families.

"And I believe it is this Government who is delivering for those very people."