For calls for change to still be falling on deaf ears in 2018 is beyond disappointing
There is a serious issue with our pension system today that has been allowed to continue for many years with no resolution.
Over 20 years ago, the government decided to require millions of older people in the future to remain in the workforce for longer. This decision was in response to the generally accepted view of increases in longevity.
At the same time, it also decided to equalise the state pension age for men and women. Time was allowed for people to adjust to the new order and nobody born before 1950 was affected.
This meant men and women born in the 1950s were to be the first generation to have access to state pensions at the same age. For some, that common age would be at above 65.
For many 1950s-born women, this would amount to a double whammy increase to their previously expected state pension age, in terms of both equalisation and the general rise.
The originally established timetable to implement this enormous work of social engineering was changed substantially in 2011, when it was decided to accelerate the planned increases to the new common pension age.
For many 1950s-born women already affected by two increases to their expected state pension age, this policy acceleration caused huge unease.
That general sense of unease coalesced into the Women Against State Pension Inequality protest movement, which called for a Parliamentary re-think of the policies and the social and financial effects they had had on so many people – many of whom had not even been aware of the changes.
Much of the ensuing debate centred on the poor communication of such important information on the part of successive governments. But even if they had ensured all affected were aware in advance, there would still have been many who could do little or nothing to alleviate their likely poor financial situation in the future.
When legislation as far-reaching as this is enacted, it affects whole generations of people across society. For many, the changes could be accommodated within their existing financial plans, particularly the wealthy and those with generous workplace pension schemes. But very few in each generation are wealthy and only around half the UK working population have had access to workplace pension schemes over the last 60 years.
Many women are having to support others while living with severe financial hardships themselves
Those born in the 1950s, like any other generation, would also have had many among them duty-bound to become unpaid carers of their parents or partners as their lives came to an end.
Many women are in just that situation today; having to support others while living with severe financial hardship themselves. That they do so is of great credit to them. It is also to their credit they question why the implementation of such policies did not come hand in hand with proper protection for those most at risk.
It is right the Waspi campaigners are calling on those who govern us to consider more carefully the human outcomes of their decisions and policies.
That such a debate was not held prior to 1995 was bad enough. But for the calls for transitional arrangements to still be falling on deaf ears in 2018 appears both unseemly and unkind.
Steve Bee is director at Jargonfree Benefits