UK - The UK government is to delay a planned increase in the state pension age in response to claims that women in their late 50s in particular would face "a raw deal" because they would have to wait two years longer to retire.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said today he would amend the Pensions Bill currently before parliament to cap the extension to women's working lives at 18 months.

As it stands, the proposed legislation would increase the state pension age for women to 65 by November 2018, and to 66 for both men and women by April 2020.

The government claims new legislation is necessary because of "dramatic increases in life expectancy and the need to ensure no unfair burden is placed on the next generation".

Although the Department of Work and Pensions has yet to disclose details of the shift announced today, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said today's volte face would provide "a useful bit of leeway" for some of the estimated 250,000 women affected.

However, NAPF chief executive Joanne Segars added that the move did not go far enough.

"Many [women] will struggle to bridge the gap," she said in a statement. "The state pension age for women should be brought into sync with men's, but it needs to be done fairly."

An NAPF proposal submitted to the government recommended that no future change be made to the state pension age before 2020 - and then only if the government also put in place measures dealing with the "cultural, economic and legal factors" that would enable people to work longer.

The body also recommended that the increase occur over a two-year period from 2020 to 2022.

NAPF spokesman Paul Platt told IPE: "The government could have done more. We were hoping it would do something - and it has. But it should have taken original proposals into consideration. Did we expect them to? It's difficult to say."

The Pensions Bill will receive its third parliamentary hearing next Tuesday.