Women 'could still retire before 66 in return for lower weekly pension payments'

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said the introduction would mean no cost to the public purse

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Tens of thousands of women hit by the rising state pension age could still retire before they are 66 in return for a "slightly" lower pension, MPs have suggested.

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said that introducing the measure on an "actuarially neutral" basis would mean that there would be no overall cost to the public purse.

The Government has been under pressure to put in place transitional help for the estimated 500,000 women born in the 1950s who have seen the age they can claim their pension jump from 60 to 66 with little notice.

In an interim report, the committee said ministers should consider allowing the women in the group concerned to choose to take a state pension sooner than scheduled in return for lower weekly payments for the duration of their retirements.

The scale of the reduction would be calculated to ensure that, on average, over the lifetime of the pensioners involved, there would be no additional costs to the Exchequer.

The committee chairman, Labour MP Frank Field, acknowledged that more work needed to be done before such a scheme was introduced, but said that the idea could offer the basis for further discussion in government.

"This interim report opens up the debate which I'm sure MPs from all sides will want to pursue. We will begin taking fuller evidence on the options as soon as possible," he said.

Conservative committee member John Glen added: "Lack of adequate notification of state pension age changes demands transitional arrangements, but implemented in an affordable way. This report recommends a possible way forward which the Government should now explore."

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