THE government must reconsider punishing changes to women’s pensions after it emerged earlier reforms boosted state coffers by more than £5 billion a year, campaigners say.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found more than one million women are worse-off by an average of £32 a week after the retirement age moved from 60 to 63.

The change, which happened between 2010 and 2016, has taken 1.1 million women off the pensions book, saving the UK Government £4.2bn on the state support and related benefits.

Increased employment in this age group has also brought in £0.9bn for the Treasury.

But for affected households, income has dropped by an average of 12 per cent, narrowing to four per cent for the wealthiest and increasing to 21 per cent for the worst-off.

The expert body found income poverty among 60 to 62-year-old women has risen by 6.4 percentage points.

Published today, the findings come from work that was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council.

With the female state pension age set to reach 65 by next year, the benefit to the government is expected to continue, but women are increasingly “losing out”.

Jonathan Cribb, author of the report, said: “The tax and benefit system is much more generous to those above the state pension age than those below it.

“So while increasing the state pension age is a coherent response to the public finance challenge posed by rising longevity, it does place a further pressure on household budgets.

“The increased state pension age is boosting employment – and therefore earnings – of affected women, but this is only partially offsetting reduced incomes from state pensions and other benefits.

“Since both rich and poor women are losing out by, on average, roughly similar amounts, the reform increases income poverty rates among households containing a woman who has reached age 60 but has not yet reached her state pension age.

“It is important that the government communicates the ongoing increases in the state pension age clearly so that families can plan for their retirement as well as possible.”

The WASPI campaign, which is fighting for transitional arrangements for 1950s-born women given little notice to plan for the new age rise, says the findings further support its position.

Director Jane Cowley said: “Once again, this shows that the government has implemented state pension age reforms without adequately considering the full impact of these changes on the women affected.

“Whether it is the 3.5m WASPI women who were not given sufficient warning of rises to their state pension age, or the sharp rise in income poverty among 60 to 62-year-old women, the government needs to sit up and start realising that its changes have devastating consequences on the women affected.

“Yet again, it is women who are paying the price for the government’s pension reforms. This simply isn’t good enough when the UK already has one of the biggest pension pay gaps in Europe.”

WASPI says some 1950s-born women have lost as much as £50,000 through the changes, and campaigners say this has denied them enough time to make the required changes to their retirement plans.

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman last month suggested those affected could secure apprenticeships as a way back into work.

He said: “There is a massive amount that this government has done on a progressive basis to get people back into employment in their pre-pension years.”

Responding to the IFS report, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said it confirmed the SNP’s fears about the handling of the equalisation process.

Describing the findings as “grim reading”, he said: “The idea of equalising pensions ages is accepted, but it is about the implementation and handling of it.

“As this IFS research shows, the Tories have devised a way to get billions more into the Chancellor’s coffers by hitting this group hard.

“This is an issue of equality and fairness. The UK government must take responsibility and do the right thing for these women.

“The Prime Minister must listen and end this complete unfairness, which is doing so much damage.’’