19/07/2017 15:45 BST | Updated 19/07/2017 16:10 BST

David Gauke Denies UK State Pension Age Increase An Attempt To 'Bury Bad News'

Minister denies trying to hide plans under BBC pay story.

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke has denied he announced an increase in the state pension age on the same day as the BBC released details of how much it pays its star presenters in an attempt to “bury bad news”.

Gauke announced today that the pension age would rise from 67 to 68 from 2037 - seven years earlier than planned.

Today’s news has been dominated by the publication of which BBC presenters earn over £150,000.

And the BBC’s Simon McCoy questioned Gauke whether this was a coincidence.

“This is not a bad day to bury bad news given the fuss there is going to be in the papers tomorrow about BBC salaries, is that part of the process that led to this decision this afternoon?” he asked.

But Gauke denied this was the case. “This was planned in our grid before I was even aware the BBC presenter story was going to be put out there. It didn’t feature in our thinking.”

The increase in the pension age, which will affect people born after 5 April 1970, had been scheduled to come in between 2044 and 2046. The government said bringing the date forward will save £74bn. 

The government argues the increase is the “responsible and fair course of acton” as life expectancy had improved.  

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said the increase was “an astonishing continuation of austerity” that would force 34 million people to work longer than under Labour’s plans to keep the retirement age at 66.