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State Pension Age (Women)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 13 June 2011

13. What assessment he has made of the effects on women born between 6 March and 5 April 1954 of his proposals to increase the state pension age. (58794)

Our proposed changes will equalise women’s pension age with men’s more rapidly than previously planned. Under the Government’s proposals, women born on 6 March 1954 will have a pension age of 66 and those born between 7 March and 5 April 1954 will have a pension age of up to a month less.

I highlight the plight of 33,000 women born in one month in 1954 who will be the worst affected under the pension retirement rules. In total, 500,000 women will be affected by one year or more than expected. When they get their pensions, they will be a lot better off than they would have ever been under the Labour party, but what can we do for women in this particular group, who will have to wait an additional two years for their pension?

My hon. Friend raised this important issue, I think, in last Wednesday’s debate when we were startled when she declared an interest in the question. Were we to address the concerns of that group of 33,000 women, we would find that women born one month before or after—who might be affected by a few months less, but still significantly—would ask for a change as well. The short answer is that to delay the whole thing till 2020, as some have suggested, would require an additional £10 billion to be found. She will understand why that is not possible.

The early-day motion calling on the Government to rethink these unfair changes to the pension system has been signed by 180 hon. Members, including 23 Liberal Democrats and three Conservatives. More than 10,000 people have presented a petition to Downing street asking the Government to think again, and the campaign is backed by Age UK and Saga. If the Government can U-turn on forests and, just last week, announce a U-turn on sentencing, surely they can listen and act upon the concerns of women now approaching retirement with fear and trepidation.

To the extent that we know what the hon. Lady’s policy is, it appears to be: to put it off for a decade. Unfortunately, one of the problems with the previous Government’s approach on so many difficult issues was to put them off and assume that somebody else would pay. On pensions, that would require another £10 billion to be paid by tomorrow’s national insurance payers. Does she think that that is a fair burden, given that the people retiring shortly will benefit from the greater longevity?