State pension issue for women

The Coalition government’s decision to accelerate the rise in women’s State Pension Age (SPA), had a devastating impact on many women who were born in the 1950s, some of whom are now facing real hardship as a result.

It is vital that changes to the SPA are carefully implemented so that those who are affected are given adequate notice of the changes and have enough time to plan for the future. The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign has highlighted the negative impact the changes are having. Accelerating the rise in women’s SPA has meant that women born in the 1950s have not had enough notice of changes and could not plan for their new circumstances. The impact of these changes has been further exacerbated by the government’s failure to communicate the changes.

The then Work and Pensions Secretary committed in 2011 to looking at transitional arrangements for the women hit hardest by the changes, but failed to do so. There has been a number of Parliamentary debates on this issue in recent months, including an Opposition Day Debate in February 2016. During this debate, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary set out six transitional support options.

In March 2016 the Work and Pensions Select Committee published a Report on the SPA which invited the Government to make up for its mishandling of changes to the state pension age. There are, then, a range of options Ministers could, and should, be pursuing, including the option of early access to a lower state pension

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has now launched an inquiry to explore the possible effects of such a policy.

The government has also announced that there is to be an independent review of the future of the SPA. However, this review will not cover the existing SPA timetable up to April 2028. I believe that the government should also consider this review as an opportunity to look again at what more can be done to help those women born in the 1950s who are set to lose out.

Inaction mustn’t be an option and the government must look again at the issue, as a matter of urgency.

I will continue to support efforts to press the government to look at measures to help the women who have been disadvantaged.