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Govt rejects calls to slow women’s state pension age hike

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The Government has rejected calls for new transitional arrangements to be introduced for women affected by increases to the state pension age.

In a debate in the House of Commons today, spurred by campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality, Department for Work and Pensions minister Shailesh Vara maintained that provisions for women affected by the 2011 acceleration of women’s retirement age to 66 had been thoroughly debated at the time.

Vara said 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.

He said: “This matter was debated very thoroughly in 2011, and a concession was made then worth over £1bn. It was thoroughly debated in both houses of parliament and I very much hope that I have put on record the position of the Government.”

The minister’s statement followed numerous pleas from MPs for the Government to reassess how the changes are affecting women.

Opening the debate, Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black accused the Government of being “vindictive”.

She said: “There are two problems at the heart of this. The poor communications that have happened through the years, and all we can do is learn from that.

“But the second issue is the 2011 Act, and the rapid changes that the Coalition and this Government have made. That’s something we can do something about.

“I don’t believe this policy is vindictive or was done in the knowledge it would hurt people, but because of a mess and mistake after mistake that we have found ourselves at this point.

“But if we won’t do anything then it will become vindictive and people will be hurt.”

Labour shadow pensions minister Nick Thomas-Symonds added: “The much-vaunted reduction in the cap from 24 months to 18 months simply isn’t enough. Does the Government understand the anger that there is that more transitional measures have not been considered?

“I urge the Government to be constructive. They can still do something to ease the transition. Whatever the Government does today, do not slam the door in the face of the 1950s women.”

However, there was also scepticism from some MPs.

Pensions All Party Parliamentary Group chairman Richard Graham said: “We will never know exactly who was communicated to and who noticed and paid attention to it.

“But we do know that in 2004 the previous government did a study on this and that found that three-quarters of those affected had been communicated to effectively.

“It is incumbent on all of us as MPs, partly to represent the emotional feelings of our constituents, but also to reflect on the reality and the cost and the implications of what has been proposed.”

Conservative MP Marcus Fysh added: “We have a duty to the young people of this nation to keep their taxes down so that they have as much scope to plan for their retirement as possible.

“It would be entirely wrong to reopen a decision that was taken by a Lib Dem and Conservative Coalition back in 2011.”

Fellow Tory MP Huw Merriman added: “Whilst I agree with the concern being raised, I do not see a remedy before us.

“If the manifesto of my Government is to be enacted this further mitigation would then have to be paid for by others in society in the form of higher taxes.”

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Comments

There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. This has been on the cards for years – if people took some responsibility for their finances those affected would have known this. Surely the group is misnamed and should be called ” Women Against State Pension EQUALITY”

  2. Every woman born in 1955 will have £45,000 ‘stolen’ from her. She contracted with the Governement when she started word to contribute into a system that would pay her a pension at age 60. Throughout her working life she would have planned her finances to provide her with the income she needs at 60, but that has been taken away, stolen. It is a disgrace and to say that the Government has made a £1.1bn ‘concession’ is an insult to these women as it is their money they are using to ‘look big’ Shame on you Shailesh Vara and your gold plated priveledged Civil Service Pension. I know exactly how you all scream ‘NO’when the topic of changing YOUR pensions comes up.

    • Andy Robertson-Fox 7th January 2016 at 6:51 pm

      I thınk you wıll fınd that the “contract” was to make NI contrıbutions and, in return, would be paid a pension from the State Retirement Age, (SRA). Although for years these were traditionally 60 for a woman and 65 for a man they have never been set in concrete. My belief is that the bone of contentıon is not the adjustment to the SRA but the manner of notificatıon, speed of implementation and lack of a longer transitional period.
      Unlike the frozen pensioner, who has met all the same terms and conditions durıng their working lives but are denied index linking these women are not losing anything because they have no entitlement until reaching the revised SRA.

    • Andy Robertson-Fox 7th January 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Shailesh Vara is not a Civil Servant.

    • Sorry Frank, but no they didn’t “contract” with the government or anything like it, so please stop trying to scream and preach to people about how these poor women are being wronged. They aren’t. Women’s state pension age was always an anomaly dating back to the point where most women would not get a state pension in their own right, or i they did it would be much less than the average man’s.

      They then changed that, which majorly increased the vast majority of womens state pensions, but left the age anomaly. You seem much like this group “Women Against State Pension Inequality”. Not against inequality, but in favour of it, just in favour of women.

      As for the laughable concept that she will have “planned” her life around getting the state pension at age 60. I would imagine she also planned her life around only living to an average of age 75, is this theoretical woman going to commit suicide when she reaches age 75, if she hasn’t died beforehand?

      Things change, because they have to, so please stop the bleating about how unfair life is and just get on with it.

  3. Frank Hadley: The first half of your comment is complete and utter tosh.

  4. I don’t agree with most of the previous post but there is no question that women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 January 1954 were discriminated against in the terms set out by the 2011 Act and to a lesser extent those born between 6 January 1954 and 5 October 1954. The example of 2 women in the same academic year (i.e. less than a year apart when born) but with an SPA 2 years and 10 months apart convinced me that there was an injustice here.I’m also not convinced that the cost of correcting this discrimination is as great as ministers make out.

  5. Sorry Frank but what a load of nonsense!

    There was never a guarantee that the state pension age would never change and in any case, if women are now having money ‘stolen’ what about the men who have ended up £45,000 worse off than the equivalent female due to years of retiring at different ages?

  6. I wonder how much was spent communicating the changes to the public compared to that stupid advert for AE?

  7. My wife (b 1957) is right in the frame for these changes, and neither she nor I have any issue about how it’s been communicated. Whilst not enthralled by the idea (a pension from 60 would have been nice), one has to recognise the issue that’s been brewing like a pressure cooker for decades now, and that is simply that younger folk coming up behind simply cannot afford the generous anomolies that have been promised by succesive governments over the years and who miserably failed in the 1970’s and 80’s to address it. It’s not as if women are the only folk affected by political changes to pensions to wit. the changes to SERPS etc.

  8. Trevor Harrington 9th January 2016 at 11:18 pm

    It is much simpler than that.

    The Government is short of money, because it has spent large amounts of its taxation revenue on public sector pensions, early retirements, and enhanced public sector pensions for it’s mates, particularly those in middle to upper management.

    All you need to do is to look at the “employer” contributory rate for pensions in any council budget, education authority, police authority or fire brigade, and you will find that the employer (YOU AND ME) is paying anything between 25% and 35% of PAYROLL. Private sector employer contribution rates rarely exceed 10% of payroll.

    Anyway, if you are trying to save expenditure on any budget, of any nature, you naturally look at the largest expenditure items first, and then you whittle those down to those who are least likely to be able to object ….

    Women’s state pensions is a good place to start, and then you can perpetuate the lie that we are all living longer too …. a blatant lie (Office Of National Statistics for life expectancy).

    I predict – The budget deficit will be closed in the next 4 years, and the national debt will be redeemed within 20 years (purely on the the changes to the state pension entitlement).

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