Major reforms to the state pension – which will simplify the system and provide greater clarity to people about what they will receive in retirement – are a step closer today after the legislation became law.
The reforms will create a simple, flat rate pension, the full level of which will be set above the basic means test – currently £148.35.
In particular women, carers and some low earners who haven’t previously received much in way of additional pension will benefit. And self-employed people, who miss out on any additional pension under the current arrangements, will be brought fully into the state pension system for first time, helping millions to secure a more comfortable retirement.
The Government expects that in the first ten years after implementation, around 650,000 women will benefit from the single-tier valuation of their pension at 2016, receiving on average £8 a week more in state pension.
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb says: “The new state pension will give people clarity and confidence about what income they will get from the state in their retirement. In addition, the state pension reforms will benefit those who have historically done poorly under the current two-tier system.
“I want to see us build a fairer society within a stronger economy. That means ensuring people have a simple, better state pension in retirement which protects them from poverty and provides a solid foundation for them to save for their future.”
Ten qualifying years of National Insurance contributions will be required to receive any State Pension under the reforms, and for people who start their National Insurance record after the reforms are introduced, the full level of the new state pension will be based on 35 years of National Insurance contributions.
Transitional arrangements have been designed to protect people’s contributions prior to 2016, provided that they meet the minimum qualifying period.
Colin Gornall, chief executive of Age UK Bradford & District, says there are currently 1.7 million older people living in poverty in the UK and around one million of those are living in severe poverty.
He says they want to see the Government trying to reduce the pensions poverty across the board not just those in certain categories.
“This will help people who currently are lower income or have lower income because of caring responsibilities, it will help those and we are pleased about that,” says Colin.
But he adds that it will still be a two-tier system and some older people will not see any benefit of the new rate.
Cyril Davies, chairman of Keighley and Bradford Pensioners Association, says : “To pensioners such as myself, it will not be of any benefit and especially for women who have a small pension because they will not be included. If they were included if would be alright,” says Cyril.
He suggests including women with small pensions would help. “But the whole structure of pensions need altering. It is just not enough. If you have an extra pension you may be alright. The state pension is just not enough.”
The new state pension legislation is contained in the Pensions Act 2014, which also provides for other reforms to the State Pension age, bereavement benefits and private pensions.
More information on the Act and what it means for individuals can be found on gov.uk/new-state- pension.