Yesterday (24th February 2016) the Government voted ‘No’ to helping the millions of women hit by the changes in the state pension scheme.
Changes to the state pension were announced in 1995, in order to bring the qualifying age for women in line with that for men by 2020. The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated the increase from 60 to 65, setting women’s retirement age at 65 by 2018 and 66 by October 2020.
During a House of Commons debate yesterday 289 MPs voted against changing the arrangements made in 1995 to give 2.6 million women an easier transition into retirement.
The debate followed a long-running campaign by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), a group that is campaigning against unfair changes to the State Pension Age imposed on women born in the 1950s, arguing that they were not adequately informed that they would have to wait years longer than they expected for their state pensions.
As of last night, more than 156,000 people had signed a WASPI petition calling for fair transitional arrangements for those affected.
During the debate Shadow Pensions minister, Angela Rayner, urged MPs to back the motion and SNP MP Mhairi Black, said: “Pensions are a right not a benefit. It’s an issue of respect.”
Women’s Equality Party (WE) said the ‘No’ vote is yet another failure to listen to the needs of British women and do the right thing.
“We are appalled that the women who have been unfairly penalised by these arrangements continue to be disregarded,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the WE “Maintaining the status quo means that millions of women will live out their retirement in poverty because of insufficient pension provision.”
“The Women’s Equality Party is the only party calling for a new single rate of pension tax relief at 25 percent, with the aim of providing a substantial boost to the pension savings of all low earners, most of whom are women,” Walker added.
Women’s average total retirement income is £14,300 a year compared with £19,100 for men.
“We fully support the campaign by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) to reverse government plans to force pension arrangements onto women without allowing them sufficient time to plan their retirement.”
“WE will continue to work with the women behind WASPI’s campaign to find alternative plans which are both fair and economically viable.”