Labour MPs have slammed the Government’s state pension reforms as an “attack on women” who are coming up to retirement age.
In questions to work and pensions ministers in the House of Commons today, Labour MPs lined up to criticise the differing impact on women who are set to retire before 2017.
Earlier this month, the Government unveiled wide-ranging reforms to scrap contracting-out and introduce a flat-rate pension of £144 a week by 2017.
But Labour MPs say that as women currently retire earlier than men, there will be women drawing a lower pension than a man who is the same age once the reforms kick in.
For example, a woman who retires aged 63 in 2015 will potentially draw a a £107 basic state pension under currently rules. However, a man who is the same age will draw £144 a week when he retires three years later in 2018. Labour MPs argue it is unfair that it will result in a man and a woman who are the same age drawing different pension amounts.
The Government plans to raise the state pension age gradually for women from 60 to 65 in the run up to 2018, two years earlier than Labour planned, before equalising the pension ages for men and women at 66 in 2020. As part of the reforms individuals will need to accrue 35 years to receive the full benefit although years spent bringing up children ot caring for elderly relatives will be included in the calculation.
Speaking in the Commons today, Labour MP for Glasgow North East William Bain said: “There are 500 women in my constituency born between 6 April 1952 and 6 July 1953. Why will they receive a state pension of up to £1,900 less than a man born on the same day?”
MP for Birmingham Hall Green Steve McCabe said: “Is the minister at all worried that this looks like another coalition attack on working women?”
MP for Glenrothes Lindsay Roy said: “Some women will not qualify for the new state pension while men of the same age will. How does the minister justify penalising 700 women in my constituency?”
One MP questioned whether the reforms would even be legal considering equalities legislation.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said the new system is not more beneficial and there are options for women who fall into this category.
He said: “We can’t bring the measure forward because the occupational pension sector needs time. The only way we could treat men and women identically is to delay until 2019 when many more women would be excluded.”