Women and Carers “systematically failed by the pensions system” – Jo

Jo has expressed concern at pensions inequality

 Jo Swinson MP has slammed the Government for failing to provide adequate pensions for women and carers in East Dunbartonshire.

A report published last week by the Department of Work and Pensions shows that the current pensions structure is letting down millions of women and carers across the country. The Government Actuaries Department predicts that it will be 20 years before men and women are likely to have similar levels of entitlement to the basic state pension, but this is partly because the levels of entitlement amongst men will fall.

This means that unless the pension system undergoes radical changes, most of the 22,500 women aged between 45 and 60 in East Dunbartonshire will continue being discriminated against by the system and will receive poorer pensions when they retire.

Commenting on the report, Jo said:

“These figures show that John Hutton, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has a huge challenge ahead of him. It is a scandal that women and carers are still being systematically failed by the pensions system.

“It is clear that the gender pay gap experienced by women during working life continues into retirement. Many women who have low earnings during their working life will not accrue sufficient national insurance contributions to entitle them to a full basic state pension when they retire. In addition, those in unpaid caring work are penalised in retirement – instead, their contribution should be valued. The women and carers that I have met in East Dunbartonshire will be deeply concerned by this report.

“The Government should establish a Citizen’s Pension, based on UK residency, rather than continuing to tinker with the failing system of National Insurance contributions.”

The publication of the report came just hours before an announcement by Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs of a new campaign to secure a £200 Christmas bonus for the 173,000 women aged 60-64 in Scotland.

The Government is set to give the money to all other pensioners as a refund on their Council Tax, alongside their Winter Fuel Payment. But the Chancellor’s pre-election generosity was limited to those over 65-years-old.

Commenting on the campaign launch, Jo said:

“There are around 3,000 women aged between 60 and 64 in East Dunbartonshire, all of whom are set to miss out on the £200 bonus this Christmas.

“Ministers have come up with scarce justification for the exclusion of 60-64 year old women from the Christmas council tax refund. They have privately said that 65 is an “appropriate” retirement age, but when questioned in public, they have dodged the issue.

“The inconsistency in the Government’s treatment of retirement age women is startling.”

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