§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to implement flexible retirement ages. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
We are committed to extending opportunities for older workers. Our Green Paper 'Simplicity, Security and Choice: Working and Saving for Retirement', December 2002, outlined a number of incentives to help implement flexible retirement ages.
From 2005, we propose changing the tax rules to allow people to continue working for the sponsoring employer while drawing their occupational pension. We intend to introduce more generous increases for deferral of state pensions including the option of a lump sum payment.
From October 2006, we will implement age legislation covering employment and vocational training. This will include making compulsory retirement ages unlawful except in those cases where employers can show they are objectively justified. We will work with employers and representative groups to develop best practice and ensure that occupational pension rules do not discourage flexible working.
In addition to this our Age Positive Campaign will continue to work closely with employers promoting and building on the known business benefits of recruiting and retaining older workers as part of an age diverse workforce.
This is all part of our aim to encourage a flexible approach to retirement and reverse the 'cliff edge' by providing choice and opportunity for people to stay in work longer.1104W
§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received on(a) a flexible retirement age, (b) full employment for over 65s who wish to remain in work and (c) the operation of New Deal 50 plus to make support available immediately rather than after six months. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
Our Green Paper 'Simplicity security and choice: Working and saving for retirement', in December 2002 set out our proposals for supporting flexible retirement and greater choice and opportunity for people to work up to and beyond state pension age where they wish.
In response there was widespread support for flexible approaches to retirement, where that is based on individual choice and enables employers to retain experience and skills. Over 90 per cent. of respondents agreed with the proposal for individuals to be able to draw their occupational pension and continue working for the sponsor employer, with support coming from employers, individuals and representative organisations.
Through our Age Positive campaign employers are increasingly expressing their support for removing compulsory retirement ages. However, some employers feel that retirement ages should be retained; the Department for Trade and Industry has been consulting on proposals for age legislation covering employment and are currently assessing the responses to inform a further consultation in 2004 on draft regulations.
We have received a number of representations from organisations about the eligibility period for New Deal 50 plus. Currently, around 75 per cent. of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance aged 50 or over leave the benefit within the first six months; New Deal 50 plus eligibility is set at six months to specifically help those people who are in need of extra support to move into work.