SNP has five answers to UK women’s pension row
This report, she pointed out, does the government’s job for them, by offering real workable solutions to the injustice that women born in the 1950s face regarding changes to their pensions.
Around 2.6 million women were affected by a change in the law that accelerated the pace of ‘equalisation’ – raising women’s pension age to match that of men – and many will receive their pension several years later than they expected.
Furthermore, due to the UK government’s shambolic handling of the notification process many thousands of the women affected by the changes were not been given a reasonable period of time to properly prepare for retirement.
The issue has been widely debated in the House of Commons, and given tremendous support by Mhairi Black, and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign groups have worked tirelessly for the introduction of fair transitional measures, but the UK government has refused to act.
The SNP agrees with the equalisation of the state pension age but does not support the unfair manner in which these changes were made in the 2011 Pensions Act.
Women born in the 1950s and affected by these changes are feeling the hardship now and need action taken now – and since the Conservatives refused to act the SNP decided to do the necessary work and find a solution.
The SNP’s ensuing independently researched report puts forward five options that would enable the UK government to reverse its mistakes and ensure dignity in retirement for these women.
And the research has found that all this could be done at a fraction of the cost the UK government has been talking about.
For £8 billion – as opposed to the £30 billion predicted by the UK government – we could to return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pensions Act – which would go some way to ending the gross injustice served to these women and would help to alleviate pensioner poverty.
Politicians and campaigners already know that the money is to hand, as the National Insurance Fund is projected to have a surplus of £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18.
The UK government is sitting on this ‘hefty pot‘ and must surely consider using £8 billion to alleviate the plight of the women of the 1950s that the government itself has caused.
And the SNP delivered a copy of this report to 10 Downing Street ahead of the Conservative Party Conference.
The SNP’s report models five different reform options for compensating women born in the 1950s who lose out from the accelerated increases in the State Pension Age (SPA) specified in the Pensions Act 2011.
Option 1: Resetting women’s pension age to 60
This option would reduce women’s SPA back down to 60 – where it was before the increases in pension age in the 1995 Pensions Act began to take effect.
Option 2: Return to the timetable in the 1995 Pensions Act
This option restores the timetable specified in the 1995 Pensions Act (whereby women’s SPA rises from 63 in March 2016 to 65 by April 2020, with no further increase to 66 until the mid-2020s).
Option 3: Slow the timetable for increasing women’s pension age
This option maintains a rise in women’s SPA to 66 but slows down the timetable so that women’s SPA rises to 65 by April 2019 (instead of November 2018) to 66 by April 2021 (instead of October 2020).
Option 4: Reduce the qualifying age for Pension Credit to 65 for a transitional period
This option keeps the timetable for increasing women’s SPA to 66 as set out in the Pensions Act 2011, but lowers the qualifying age for Pension Credit to 65 for the period from November 2018 to April 2021.
This compensates women aged between 65 and 66 on low incomes who would otherwise be adversely affected by the accelerated timetable for the rise in women’s SPA to 66.
Option 5: Allow women affected by the increase in SPA to 66 to receive the State Pension at age 65 on an actuarially fair basis
This option would allow women affected by the accelerated increase in the SPA to claim the State Pension at age 65 but at a slightly lower rate than the full rate of State Pension (around 6 per cent lower if the pension is claimed a year early).
The SNP hopes that this report will not only be welcomed by the UK government but convince them to take action and give these women their proper hard earned pensions and retirement.
It is, as the SNP points out, time for the Conservatives to face up to reality: pensions are not a benefit, they are a contract and the UK government is in the process of breaking that contract. But it can be fixed.