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State Pension Age: Women

Volume 615: debated on Monday 17 October 2016

4. Whether his Department plans to take steps to introduce transitional protection for women adversely affected by the acceleration of increases in the state pension age. (906580)

14. Whether his Department plans to take steps to introduce transitional protection for women adversely affected by the acceleration of increases in the state pension age. (906590)

16. Whether his Department plans to take steps to introduce transitional protection for women adversely affected by the acceleration of increases in the state pension age. (906592)

Transitional arrangements are already in place. We committed £1 billion to lessen the impact of the state pension age changes on those who were affected, so that no one would experience a change of more than 18 months. In fact, 81% of women’s state pension ages will increase by no more than 12 months, compared with the previous timetable.

Last week, I and more than 100 cross- party colleagues presented petitions in support of the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign. Will the Minister acknowledge that those women have been subject to a grave injustice and that now is the time for the Government to introduce appropriate transitional payments for the women most affected by the pension changes?

I can only reiterate to the hon. Lady what has been said many times before. The Government made transitional arrangements that came to more than £1 billion. [Interruption.] She is chuntering at me from a sedentary position. I could not hear, but will try to imagine what she was saying. The Government have made the transitional arrangements, and no further moves will be made to assist those women, all of whom will benefit in time from the significant increase in the new state pension.

There are shocking reports of women affected by the changes introduced last April being left destitute. Many of them who have been on low pay all their lives where occupational pension schemes were not open to them have taken on caring responsibilities, saving this country lots of money. What immediate measures will the Government take to address this appalling situation and put these wrongs right?

Those women, or indeed those men, under the state pension age who are in the position of destitution the hon. Lady mentions are fully entitled to a comprehensive benefits system, of which I am sure she is aware.

I pay tribute to Rosemary Jordan and the north Lincolnshire WASPI group. The Minister is better than the answers he has just given. These women are being badly affected. The Prime Minister has given a commitment to this nation to look after those people who are just managing, and the women I have seen in my surgery are just managing as a result of these pension changes. The transitional arrangements that were made back in 2011 are not good enough. I urge the Minister to go back to the Department and improve the offer.

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, I have said many times, as have other Ministers, that the transitional arrangements have cost more than £1 billion and there are arrangements in place for those people in destitution. It becomes a question of the public money that is spent. At the moment, the new state pensions are costing £89 billion a year, plus pension credit and everything else, and there is no further money available.

I am very surprised that no Government Members want to ask questions about this topic. The Prime Minister celebrated her 60th birthday earlier this month, making her part of that sisterhood of 1950s-born women who have been so shabbily treated by her predecessor’s Government. My hon. Friends the Members for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) and for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) have already referred to the mass petitions organised by WASPI, and we have heard about the amazing change of mind of not one but two previous pensions Ministers, who have acknowledged that the whole thing was wrong and a bit of a mess. Unlike other members of the special sisterhood, the Prime Minister will probably not have to rely on the state pension, but will the Minister appeal to his boss to use the power she has and to compensate some of the most needy women in our society?

I find it strange that the hon. Gentleman and his party were in the House when the Pensions Act 2011 was passed, yet their 2015 manifesto made no mention whatsoever of negating it.