Jo calls for solution to women’s pension delay


Jo Swinson has urged the Government to find a solution to the delay many women will face in obtaining their state pension.

Speaking in Parliament during question time, Jo asked Pensions Minister Steve Webb to tackle the problem faced by women born between 1953 and 1954, who will experience an extra delay of up to two years for their state pension.

The delay has come as a result of changes to the pension system so that it reflects increasing life expectancy. The state pension age for both men and women will rise to 66 by 2020.

The Minister replied that there was no easy way to deal with the issue, as dealing with the very worst affected group of women would be unfair on the other groups also affected, and delaying the changes until 2020 would cost £10 billion.

Commenting, Jo said:

“People now draw their pensions for many more years, so it is inevitable that the state pension age has to rise. However women born in 1953 and 1954 are disproportionately affected by these changes to the state pension age, and the government should look again at their situation.


“With life expectancy rising, changes must be made to ensure the state pensions system is fair and sustainable for the next generation. The Government’s introduction of a £140 a week single-tier pension will be a much-needed improvement on the complexity of the current pension system, providing genuine security in retirement.”

Notes

  1. The full text of Jo’s question to Pensions Minister Steve Webb and his response is as follows:

28 Mar 2011 : Column 13

15. Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): What assessment he has made of the potential effects on women of his proposals on pensions. [49052]

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): My hon. Friend will be aware that the Chancellor announced in the Budget that the Government will shortly consult on various options, including one for a simpler state pension. In looking at these options one of our key priorities will be to consider how we deliver improved outcomes for women. Under proposals for a single-tier pension we would expect many women to benefit and we will publish more details of our proposals shortly.

Jo Swinson: I thank the Minister for that reply, and I warmly welcome the single-tier pension, which bears a striking similarity to the citizen’s pension on which he and I have campaigned. May I bring him back to the answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr Sanders) about the injustice faced by women born in 1953 and 1954, which he said there was no simple way of dealing with? The Minister is widely respected for his great expertise on the intricacies of the pension system, so even if there is not a simple way of dealing with the problem, may I urge him to look hard to find a complicated way of tackling it?

Steve Webb: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. The issue, unfortunately, having dealt with the one-month cohort about whom I understand there is particular feeling, is that it is not only that group who face an increase of more than a year. When one looks at the neighbouring months, an obvious way of dealing with the problem is by delaying until 2020, but if we did that we would soon rack up a £10 billion bill. That is the sort of difficult trade-off we have had to face.


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