Speaking in the House of Commons, Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart accused the Government of picking the pockets of some of the poorest women in the country.
The debate, on Transitional State Pension Arrangements for Women was held by the Labour Party in the House of Commons. It is prompted by a campaign, Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign (WASPI) whose members are calling for fair pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s.
As part of plans to equalise the pension age for men and women, many women born in the 1950s were given insufficient notice of the change to their pension age, leaving them unprepared and without a back-up plan.
Fiona commented, “Women who expected to retire at 60, and had no reason to believe otherwise are now realising that they will have to work for a few more years. This can be devastating, especially if you have made plans that are hard to change.
“Women in their 50s have had a tough deal, first under the coalition government and now under the conservatives. I’ve championed their cause and I will continue to do so but the government seriously needs to rethink its plans which will have such an impact on women that have worked so hard and contributed so much.”
A petition on this issue has received over 150,000 signatures.
Fiona Mactaggart: When the hon. Gentleman says that £30 billion was saved as a result of the 2011 changes, what he is saying is that there was a transfer from one of the poorest groups in our society, which is women in their 50s. That group of women saw the largest growth in unemployment under the coalition Government and are more likely to have to work after retirement than men. When they do so, two thirds of them work on the lowest wage levels, unlike men who work after retirement, two thirds of whom work on the highest wage levels. What does he have to say about picking the pockets of the poorest women in our society?
Minister, Mr Vara: I will address some of the points that the right hon. Lady makes, because there is a broader context to this debate, rather than simply the issue of the pension age. Given the opportunity, I would like to make some progress.
People are living longer and leading healthier lives. Of course, that is to be welcomed, but it does increase the pressure on the state pension scheme. As a Government, we have a responsibility to keep it affordable and sustainable for future generations.