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The government has frozen plans to accelerate the rise in the state pension age.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride confirmed the move following newspaper reports that suggested the government was erring over the plans.

The age at which the state pension is payable currently stands at 66, and by the end of 2028, it will have risen to 67.

Mr Stride said he agreed the rise in the state pension age from 66 to 67 should occur between 2026 and 2028 as planned, but that parliament “consider the rise to age 68 again”.

Increasing the state pension aged to 68 was scheduled to happen between 2044 and 2046 – but ministers had been contemplating bringing that forward to between 2037 to 2039.

However, Mr Stride confirmed the decision on increasing the state pension to 68 will be delayed until after the next election, with another review taking place “within two years of the next parliament”.

He told MPs: “Given the level of uncertainty about the data on life expectancy, labour markets and the public finances, and the significance of these decisions on the lives of millions of people, I am mindful a different decision might be appropriate once these factors are clearer.

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“I therefore plan for a further review to be undertaken within two years of the next parliament to consider the rise to age 68 again.”

The Cabinet minister defended his approach, saying it “continues to provide certainty for those planning for retirement” while ensuring in the longer term, it is “sustainable and fair across the generations”.

He said the government “remains committed” to the principle of 10-years notice of changes to state pension age.

“The approach I’m setting out today is a responsible and reasonable one,” he said.

“One that continues to provide certainty for those planning for retirement, while ensuring that we take the time to get this right for the longer term, so that the state pension can continue to provide security in retirement and is sustainable and fair across the generations.”

Increasing the state pension age had been on the cards for a while because of the trend of people living longer.

However, the coronavirus pandemic changed that, reducing the life expectancy for women by one year and 1.3 years for men – removing a key justification for changing the rules.

The government is also likely to have had an eye on France, where violent protests have erupted at President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64.

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