Jo criticises Government priorities on womens pensions

There was broad cross-party agreement on many of the issues of priority for women

Jo Swinson has pressed the Government to give priority to providing fair pensions for women.

Responding to a statement in Parliament today by Harriet Harman MP on her priorities as Minister for Women, Jo criticised the lack of any mention of provision for pensioners from the list of priorities.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Jo said:

“The part that was missing from the families section of the statement was about women’s pensions.

“Obviously later today we are debating the Pensions Bill, and there are some very welcome improvements for women who have taken time out to care for family, but these will only be applied after the 6th of April 2010, and the difference that makes to women reaching the pension age the day before is effectively that they lose out on £27,000 worth of pension entitlement.

“I would urge the Minister to comment on whether she thinks that is fair, and also to suggest that if we really are going to address women and pensions, surely it’s time the Government went one step further and based pensions on residency status rather than national insurance contributions. Even under the new plans, women with fewer than 30 years of national insurance contributions will not be entitled to a full pension.”

Commenting later, she said:

“I was disappointed that the Minister made no mention of pensions in her statement of priorities, as it is an issue that affects millions of women, including thousands of older residents across East Dunbartonshire.

“The huge contribution women make to society often comes outside the workplace, for example as a full-time carer to a needy relative. The pensions system, based on National Insurance contributions, fails to take this into account, so we have the grossly unfair situation that women with fewer than 30 years of National Insurance contributions are not entitled to a full pension.

“Pension entitlement must be based on residency, not NI contributions, if we are to ensure fair pensions for women. It is worrying that the Minister for Women has failed to give priority to ending the raw deal suffered by women pensioners.

“I am pleased to say I share a number of priorities with the Minister for Women, including the need to close the gender pay gap, providing more affordable childcare and bringing an end to the horrific practice of trafficking women into this country.”

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