1908 - age 70
The first state pension in the UK was the Old Age Pension. The law was passed in August 1908 and the first pensions paid on 1 January 1909 to around 500,000 people aged 70 or more. It was 5/= (five shillings or 25p) a week and was paid in full to individuals aged 70 or more with an annual income of 21 a year or less reducing to nothing at an annual income of 31 a year.  A higher pension of 7/6 (62.5p) was paid to a married man. At the time only one in four people reached the age of 70 and life expectancy at that age was about 9 years.

1925 - age 65
In 1925 a new kind of pension was introduced based on contributions paid at work by employer and employee. It was paid from age 65 without a means-test. A married couple's rate of pension was paid if both spouses were aged 65 or more. That meant many men had to wait for some time after they reached 65 to get the higher rate for their wives.

1940 - men age 65, women age 60
In 1940 pension age for women was cut to 60 to try to ensure for most couples that the married rate would be paid as soon as the husband reached 65.

1948 - retirement condition added
From 1948, men had to retire as well as reach 65 to claim the new Retirement Pension paid under the National Insurance scheme. If their wife was still under 60 when they reached 65 and retired they could now claim a dependant's addition for her.

1995 - women's state pension age to be equalised
Following pressure from Europe, the Conservative Government was forced to announce plans to equalise state pension age for men and women. The timetable was the most relaxed possible and would raise pension age for women to 65 slowly from April 2010 to April 2020.

2007 - further rises in pension age to 66, 67, and then 68 introduced
The Labour Government passed a new law to raise state pension age to 66 between April 2024 and April 2026, then to 67 between April 2034 and April 2036 and to 68 between April 2044 and April 2046.

6 April 2010 - women's state pension age begins to rise
The first women are affected by the equalisation changes. Women born 6 April 1950 to 5 May 1950 have to wait until 6 May 2010 to reach state pension age, a delay of up to one month.

Entitlement to Pension Credit for men and women is now linked to women's state pension age rather than the age of 60. A similar change restricts entitlement in England only to free bus travel. Entitlement to Winter Fuel Payment is also linked to women's state pension age and the qualifying date for the payment in winter 2010/11 moves to 5 July 2010. It will rise by six months each year.

May 2010 - further change promised
In opposition the Conservative Party had announced it would raise pension age for men and women more quickly than existing plans. After it came to power with the Liberal Democrats in May 2010 this pledge was repeated in the programme for government set out in the Coalition Agreement.

"We will...hold a review to set the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women."

October 2010 - revised changes
The commitment in the Coalition Agreement fell foul of EU equality laws which allowed the government to equalise state pension ages as late as April 2020 but would not allow further discrimination between men and women during that process. So in the Spending Review of October 2010 the plans were revised. Women's state pension age would now be raised more quickly to reach 65 in 2018 and then both men and women's pension age would rise to 66 by 2020. Critics pointed out that plan breached the Coalition Agreement promise of 'no sooner than...2020 for women'.

2011 - Pensions Bill sets out the planned changes
In February 2011 the detailed timetable for change was announced in the Pensions Bill 2011. Women's state pension age would rise to 65 by November 2018 and then men and women's pension age would rise together to reach 66 by 5 April 2020. Five million men and women would face a later state pension date. But while men would have to wait at most another year, 500,000 women would have to wait longer than a year. The wait for 300,000 would be 18 months or more and 33,000 would have to wait for two years.

Widespread protests and rebellions in Parliament - which the Government defeated - led to promises by the Secretary of State Iain Duncan-Smith to introduce some 'transitional' changes to help the most severely affected women. But the Pensions Bill went through almost all its stages in Parliament with no details of what the Government would actually do.

On Thursday 13 October 2011, the last possible date, the Government announced its plans. It would cap the delay for women at 18 months. It kept the rise to 65 by November 2018. But would then stretch out the transition from age 65 to 66 for both men and women by an extra six months. It will now be completed in October 2020. The concession will cost 1.1 billion (at 2010/11 prices), half of which will be spent on stretching the timetable for men, none of whom had complained.

On Tuesday 18 October 2011 the House of Commons accepted these changes and despite a further attempt in the Lords to amend them the Pensions Act 2011 became law on 3 November 2011.

April 2011
In April 2011 the Government began a consultation on how it should bring forward the change in state pension age to 67 and then 68. That consultation closed on 24 June 2011.

29 November 2011
On 29 November 2011 in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor George Osborne announced that the rise in the State Pension Age to 67 would be brought forward to April 2026 to April 2028 instead of April 2034 to April 2036.

Further changes
Under the Pensions Act 2007 the state pension age will rise to 68 between April 2044 and April 2046. That date will be brought forward.

30 November 2011 version 1.10

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