We have amended the Pensions Bill so that women with the largest delay in receiving their state pension will find this delay reduced by six months.
Now that we will hopefully have certainty about the dates next week—subject to their lordships’ approval—we will want to ensure that people know exactly when their retirement date is. We will write to 750,000 people shortly, so that they know where they stand, and all the services of Jobcentre Plus and the Work programme will be available to those who become long-term unemployed later in life.
I congratulate those on the Front Bench on changing their minds on this issue. A number of female constituents have written to me expressing enormous gratitude for the fact that we have changed the position for the better. Does the Minister agree that this shows that we care about women in particular and, even more so, that Labour left us with such a mess that we are having to sort it out now and do things that we are not necessarily happy with?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The change that we made—a commitment to ensuring that the changes are fair as they affect women—cost £1.1 billion. The difference between us and the Opposition is that their policy cost ten times as much and they had no idea where the money would come from.
The Minister knows how important auto-enrolment is to ensuring that future generations retire on a decent pension, but the Government’s Beecroft report on deregulation looms large on the horizon. Can the Minister reassure the House that whatever Beecroft recommends, no business large or small will be allowed to opt out from auto-enrolment?
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his new role in the House. I much enjoyed his attempt to persuade the House last week that £11 billion was not very much if we divided it by 10 and by the national debt. In answer to his question about auto-enrolment, I can assure him that 2012 goes ahead as planned, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said at the Dispatch Box last week.