Conservative MP challenges Govt’s Waspi stance

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A Conservative MP has questioned the government’s position against providing transitional measures for women affected by increases in the state pension age.

In a House of Commons debate this afternoon, Conservative MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone challenged his party’s position of not offering any new protections to address the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign’s calls to help women born in the 1950s who have seen their state pension age rise from 60 to 66.

Bone said: “I just wanted to make it clear it’s not just on that side of the House there are concerns about this. Of course we don’t know what the Autumn Statement will say tomorrow but I do think we ought to at least keep options open to look at this because it’s not very satisfactory this state of affairs.”

Pensions minister Richard Harrington replied: “As my honourable friend knows public finance is very complicated. I know he intends to wait until Wednesday to see what the chancellor has to say, but I can tell him this has been looked at long and hard. Transitional arrangements of more than £1.1bn have been put in place. The state pension age was discussed and then enacted in 1995. There’s been further acts of Parliament and all of this has been extensively discussed.”

Harrington did receive support from a number of other Conservative MPs however, including Gloucester MP and work and pensions committee member Richard Graham, who said Waspi’s solution would “almost certainly be illegal” and “cost an absolute fortune.”

Labour shadow pensions minister Alex Cunningham asked if Harrington had had any discussions with the chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement regarding any potential solutions to the Waspi campaign’s concerns.

Harrington replied: “I can do no better than repeat that transitional arrangements have taken place, the government position is very clear, and I would not like him to think or believe there’s been any change in this.”

“The government will not be introducing further transitional protections beyond the £1.1bn already in place. Going any further could not be justified given the underlying imperative must be to focus public resources on those most in need.”