The Government is bringing forward plans to introduce a flat-rate state pension by a year.

The new pension - based on £144 each week in today's money - was due to be introduced in 2017, but will now begin from April 2016. (See our State Pensions guide for more.)

The scheme, first announced in January, sets a rate based on 35 years of national insurance contributions (see our Pensions shake-up story).

It is aimed at helping women, low earners and the self-employed, who under existing rules find it almost impossible to earn a full state pension.

The Department of Work and Pensions says the scheme remains the same as was outlined in January, except for the earlier start date.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb says: "Our reforms will create a simple, decent state pension, which is set above the basic means test, sooner.

"By introducing the single tier in 2016, every woman affected by the changes we have made to the state pension age in this parliament will also now have access to the new state pension."