The state pension age reform is focused on maintaining the right balance between sustainability of the state pension and fairness between generations in the face of demographic change. Without equalisation, women would be expected to spend an average of more than 40% of their adult lives receiving the state pension.
I should declare an interest: I am a WASPI woman myself, having been born in the 1950s. Many of my friends, neighbours and constituents have been hit hard by changes in their pension arrangements that are forcing them to work for an additional five years beyond their planned retirement date. Does the Minister agree that women who have set aside careers to care for families, unpaid, for many years should not be treated in the same way as men who have been able to pursue their careers unencumbered? Equality is not always achieved by treating men and women in the same way.
I thank the hon. Lady for raising that issue. It has been well debated, and additional transitional arrangements have been introduced. One development that we should all welcome is that since 1994, the rate of pensioner poverty has fallen faster for females than for males.
There are many 1950s-born women in my constituency—I, too, should declare an interest, as a 1950s-born woman myself—who are facing real financial hardship because of the pension changes. What steps are the Government taking to relieve their difficulties?
That is exactly why we have continued to deliver the triple lock. We recently announced a £3 billion uprating, and 80% of women reaching state pension age before 2030 will be better off by an average of £550 a year under the new arrangements.
Do the Government accept that the DWP’s communication strategy was well below standard, and many women found out about changes in their pensions only a year—or even a few months—before those changes were made?
That, too, is an issue that has been debated extensively in a number of Parliaments, and it has been encountered by Governments of all political persuasions. On our watch, we redoubled efforts to ensure that there was the maximum amount of communication so that people could make informed decisions.