Many constituents have contacted me about the unfair pension treatment of women born in the 1950s. We are trying to persuade the UK government to change its mind, as over 3,000 women of pension age in this area could lose out as well as hundreds of thousands across the UK.
We all know that state pension ages are going up, as people live longer, and (on average) spend a longer time in retirement. State pension ages are also being equalised for men and women.
But in making these changes, the Conservative government has to do it fairly. It should not be hitting one group disproportionately hard. Yet this is exactly what it is doing. Many women born in the 1950’s are being clobbered. They have come together under the WASPI campaign (Women Against State Pension Inequality) and – my goodness – these WASPIs are stinging the Conservative government.
The 1995 Pensions Act increased the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020, to bring it in line with that of men. But in 2011 the coalition government moved the goalposts. They decided to accelerate the rise in the women’s state pension age from April 2016 so that it reached 65 by November 2018, then rising to 66 by 2020.
This has meant that some women did not have enough notice of changes and could not plan for their new circumstances leaving them in real difficulty. Many of these women have faced gender inequality in their working lives, having entered the world of work without even the protection of the 1970 Equal Pay Act. Many will also have taken time out of work to bring up children, will have worked part-time, and will not have had the chance to build up pension provision of their own in the same way as men of their age. This makes it all the more difficult for them to adapt to unexpected changes to their pension age.
The former pensions minister Steve Webb has admitted that the coalition government made a “bad decision” on changes to the State Pension age, but he said that by the time they realised the implications “it had gone too far”. That is simply not good enough. I and other Labour MPs will continue to push the Government to look urgently at measures to help the women who have been disadvantaged.
It’s a simple matter of fairness!