Crabb to meet Waspi campaigners


New Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb is engaging in meetings with the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaigners, and will sit down with a prominent Tory critic next week.

Pensions minister Ros Altmann revealed the meetings at a Work and Pensions Committee hearing earlier today.

Altmann said that Crabb has already met women affected by the reforms, and will speak to Conservative MP Tim Loughton, a member of the newly formed WASPI all party parliamentary group, next week.

The news comes after Altmann told BBC Radio 4’s Moneybox this weekend that she had been able to engage further with Crabb on campaigns following the departure of his predecessor Iain Duncan Smith.

At the time of Duncan Smith’s resignation, Altmann bemoaned being “undermined” in her efforts to look at policies issues like women’s state pensions, and told the BBC this weekend: “I am hoping that we will be able to help, but I can’t make any promises.”

The meeting comes after the Government has repeatedly rejected transitional arrangements to ease the impact of the acceleration of the increase in women’s state pension age created by successive legislation.

In January this year, DWP minister Shailesh Vara maintained that provisions for women affected had been thoroughly debated at the time, noting that the Government had already made a £1.1bn concession by reducing to 24 months to 18 months the maximum amount of extra time any woman affected would have to wait before accessing their state pension.

Triple lock

Seperately, Altmann also refused to lend her support to extending the triple lock beyond 2020.

The Conservatives ran the 2015 election with a manifesto promise to maintain the triple lock throughout this parliament.

However, the policy has become increasingly controversial, with Duncan Smith admitting shortly after his resignation that it is among the pensioner benefits ripe for review.

Altmann said: “There is absolutely no doubt we are 100 per cent committed and the triple lock will remain in place until 2020, there is no change in that whatsoever.

“The policy thereafter is up to a future government.”

Repeatedly pressed by MPs on her own view, the minister refused to back an extension for the policy, saying she was examining evidence up to the end of the parliament, but that DWP modelling including maintaining the triple lock.

She said: “We have projections that support the reforms that we have done to state and private pensions going forward, that not only are they sustainable but they will provide a good income for pensioners in the future.”