New Cuts to Women’s Pensions are Too Far Too Fast say Patricia Hollis & Rachel Reeves

This extra rise in Women’s State Pension Age goes too far, too fast and will impoverish the most vulnerable women. This was the chilling verdict on the Coalition’s plans at last night’s Fabian Women’s Pensions Seminar in the House of Commons with speakers Baroness Hollis of Heigham, the Shadow Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves, Margaret Creear of Age UK and the Pensions Minister Steve Webb. The Seminar was organised by Seema Malhotra of the Fabian Women’s Network.

Margaret Creear from Age UK read out the reactions of 57-year-old women on learning they have to wait  2 years extra for their state pension with as little as 6 years’ time to prepare for the delay. These women, through no fault of their own, will bear the worst brunt of the Coalition’s short-notice plan to speed up the rise in women’s state pension age to 65 from 2016 and to 66 from 2018. Rachel Reeves called on the Pensions Minister to ask the Government to change its plans.

The changes, which are in breach of the Coalition Agreement of 2010, mean that no man will see his pension age rise more than a year earlier than agreed in the 2007 Pensions Act but half a million women will have to wait more than a year extra for theirs, 300,000 women will have to wait 18 months more and 33,000 women will see their pension age rise by 2 years.

As a result of increasing longevity, the1995 Pensions Act planned a rise in women’s state retirement age with a gradual increase from 60 to 65 for women between 2010 and 2020, to equalise with men’s, and then increase to 66 for all in 2022-6. With at least 15 years’ notice, women had time to plan. This latest rise gives some women just 6 years’ notice. There is less awareness of the change among lower paid women and women told Age UK they believed that Government should have done more to warn them either by writing to them all individually or advertising on TV

A loss of £10,000 in state pension income over  2 years – up to £15,000 if they could have been on Pension Credit – is what these women face. They will have no time to build up alternative pension provision and could have to draw on modest rainy day savings to survive. Women in manual jobs or in the low-earning work women often find themselves in after taking time out to care of children or relatives have no prospect of replacement pension savings.

This is the last generation of women to leave school at 15, many have worked all their lives and are incomprehensible that Government can now move the retirement goalposts at such short notice. Women, particularly in poorer socio-economic groups often develop heath conditions in their fifties – breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure which can make continued work in manual jobs hard and uncomfortable.  Nearly a third of Age UK’s respondents are unpaid family carers. Many are struggling to pay bills at the present time.

Most have faced inequality all their lives. They now won’t have the safety net of claiming Pension Credit as the entry age rises in line with women’s State Pension Age. They will instead face serious hardship as a result of the Coalition’s hasty effort to reduce the deficit at the expense of the poorest women and they are really angry.

Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, who has long been a committed campaigner on women’s pensions, helped women claim £83 million extra in state pension by asking the last Government to cross-check women’s National Insurance records for entitlement to National Insurance. He backs the vision of a new Universal Pension combining State Pension and Pension Credit at a level about the Pension Credit Guarantee. which would bring £140 a week to each adult who had paid National Insurance for 30 years. It would make saving for retirement pay for women as it would lift them above means-testing.

received from Alexandra Kemp 15 June 2011

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One Response to “New Cuts to Women’s Pensions are Too Far Too Fast say Patricia Hollis & Rachel Reeves”

  1. malka Says:

    as one of these women myself i have realised that i will lose the full amount of pension for 2yrs…………this is another unfair policy that will affect working women who have planned to retire before the age of 66yrs. as a carer too it is likely my health will suffer and if i lose my job then i’m sunk…try going on benefit now, what a way to end your working life at the mercy of this government or one like it?

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