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.