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Reeves slams Webb over dole comments


Labour has slammed pensions minister Steve Webb for saying women affected by the accelerated increase of the state pension age could apply for jobseeker’s allowance to avoid destitution.

Shadow pensions minister Rachel Reeves says it is an insult to tell women after a lifetime of work they should claim unemployment benefits.

She says: “It is an absolute insult to tell women they should go on the dole. These women have worked and brought up families – they do not want handouts.”

The Government’s pension bill will see men and women’s state pension age equalised in 2018 and rise to 66 by April 2020, earlier than previously planned. Critics say this does not leave those affected by the changes enough time to adjust their plans.

Reeves made the comments in reaction to yesterday’s Work and Pensions Questions where Webb was asked to look at what help could be offered to women needing to wait two years longer to receive their state pension.

Webb said: “One reassurance I can offer is that those women will be eligible to apply for jobseeker’s allowance or employment and support allowance, so they will not be left destitute.”

Conservative MP and Treasury select committee member Andrea Leadsom said it seems “harsh” that signing on to jobseeker’s allowance at the end of a career is the only option.

Webb said: “Jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowances are available as safety nets, but I appreciate that is not what many people want.”

The exchange came before the Government’s pension bill is debated in the House of Lords tonight, when Labour will push for the acceleration in the state pension age to be slowed.


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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. How funny that a member of the party that developed the benefits culture suggests that it is an insult that women should claim other benefits whilst waiting for their state pension to kick in.

  2. Woman whose pension age will increase by almost 2 18th February 2011 at 11:57 am

    Steve Webb’s comments that women won’t be destitute shows the disregard and callousness he feels for them

    as many of these women would not be in this situation in the first place if it were not for his decision to

    take away their pension (ie income) for up to 2 years at such short notice. Pensions have to be planned

    many years ahead and women have made their financial and retirement plans based on Government information.

    Now the Government is changing the goal posts too late for them to have many options how to make up the

    shortfall. Unemployment is rising with redundancies being announced every day and it is notoriously

    difficult to find a new job in your late 50s and early-mid 60s. Steve Webb is creating a situation whereby

    some women who have never been on the dole before (and planned their finances carefully to avoid this) may

    now no choice but to apply for it late in life and will find it humiliating and degrading, particularly in

    view of Iain Duncan Smith’s comments regarding the ‘benefit shakeup’. There must be a fairer way of

    increasing the state pension age than increasing it by 2 years for some older women, yet 1 year or less for

    most people.

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