Government must reconsider pension change impact on women born in 1950s

Commons 15 Dec 2015The plight of women born in the 1950s who are set to lose out from the equalisation of the pension age has been highlighted in a Parliamentary debate with calls to the government to rethink its approach to supporting those affected.

Bristol South Labour MP Karin Smyth was amongst Labour MPs who defeated the government in a non-binding vote (7 January).

She criticised government Ministers for failing to honour past promises to look at transitional measures to ease the impact on women affected by changes introduced in the last Parliament.

She said: “The coalition government moved the goalposts planted by the 1995 Pensions Act, by accelerating the rise to 65 of the state pension age for women. Whilst they made a commitment to look at transitional measures that would help women who are currently in their early 60s and who will be hit hardest by the changes, they have failed to honour that promise, despite Labour repeatedly asking the government to do so.”

It is believed that nationally some 500,000 women will have to wait more than a year to receive their state pension and of those 300,000 will have to wait 18 months or more as a result of coalition government legislation passed in 2011 and 2014.

“This will have a devastating impact on thousands of women across Bristol, who now find the door slammed in their face by government stubbornness to consider measures to ease the blow,” added Karin Smyth.

“Labour supports the equalisation of the state pension age but always stressed it is vital that changes are brought in with the utmost care, considering the impact they will have, so that the people who are most affected have enough time to plan for their futures.”

“Many women born in the 1950s who, when they started their working lives and perhaps took breaks to raise their families, expected to draw their state pension aged 60 but now have to wait until they are 65 or 66.

“Despite the current government intransigence Ministers must look again at this issue and urgently bring forward proposals to help those most in need.”

The gender equalisation of State Pension Age (SPA) was triggered by the 1995 Pensions Act, which sought to equalise the SPA of 65 (it had previously been 60 for women) in stages between 2010 and 2020.

In the Pensions Act 2007 the Labour government had taken steps to increase the equalised SPA to 66 over two years starting from 2024, to 67 over two years from 2034, and to 68 over two years from 2044.

But in 2011 and 2014 the coalition government legislated to accelerate the latter part of this timetable so that women’s SPA will now reach 65 sooner than anticipated, in November 2018, and 66 in October 2020.

The women affected fall into three categories:
— women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1953 will have a pension age of between 60 and 63 by March 2016 (women born between 6 April 1951 and 5 April 1953 thus do not qualify for the new single-tier state pension whilst a man born on the same day does)
— women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 December 1953 will have a pension age of between 63 and 65 by November 2018
— men and women born between 6 December 1953 and 5 April 1960 will see their pension ages be between 65 and 66 by October 2020.