Labour MP Andrew Gwynne has torn into the Pensions Minister Ros Altmann over her failure to act on a crisis in the state pension system for many women born in the 1950s – only a few years after she called on the Government to reverse its plans.
Altmann, who was a prominent commentator on pension issues before becoming Pensions Minister in 2015, has previously called the situation ‘unfair’. Now a Minister, she has claimed she has no power to put in place the transitional arrangements that would soften the blow for thousands of women. The issue has arisen from two changes to the state pension age, the first in 1995 under John Major and the second in 2011, under the last Coalition Government. WASPI – the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign – has campaigned vigorously against this injustice.
Women born in the 1950s have had their state pension age increased consecutively, and most of them were not told of the changes until it was too late, leaving them only months away from their new retirement age before realising they would not be entitled to a state pension. This has left many of them jobless and with no means of support.
What is more, the former Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, has claimed that he was poorly briefed and regrets accelerating the equalisation of the state pension age for men and women in 2011.
Labour tabled an amendment to the Pensions Bill in 2011 to block the acceleration, but this was defeated. The Government had been warned, and failed to act.
MP Gwynne had previously raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“It is an appalling injustice that these women have had no arrangements put in place to support them, and in most cases were not told of the changes until it was too late. Now many of them are struggling financially despite having worked hard and paid into the system for many years.
“I am stunned that despite the Pensions Minister previously having been outspoken on the issue, the Government is refusing to lift a finger. Shame on them.”