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Single-tier State Pension

Volume 613: debated on Thursday 21 July 2016

10. What assessment the Government have made of the effect of the single-tier state pension on gender equality. (905993)

We have reformed the complicated pension system to introduce a simpler state pension. Together with automatic enrolment, the triple lock, the protection of pensioner benefits and new pension freedoms, that will ensure that pensioners, both women and men, have greater protection, security and choice in retirement.

I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome her to her place.

The new state pension will mean 350,000 women born between 1951 and 1953 retire on the old system, just before the new proposals come into force, whereas a man born on the same day will retire slightly later but receive a pension under the new arrangements. Does she agree that a pensions commission must urgently be established to end such inequalities?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome.

Some £1.1 billion was committed at the time of the Pensions Act 2011 to reduce the maximum delay that anyone would experience in claiming their state pension. As a result of the Government’s triple lock, since April 2011 the basic state pension has risen by £570 a year. The Government’s position on this policy is very clear.

The current review of the state pension age by John Cridland is critical to ensuring that the existing inequalities in the current pension system do not plague future retirees. Does the Minister agree that discrepancies in life expectancy, including among some of the poorest women in society and across the UK regions, must be closely examined to prevent gender inequalities?

I absolutely agree that it is important to prevent gender inequalities, but equally we have to be realistic and acknowledge that, across the country, people are living longer. If we want to carry on with a sustainable and affordable pension system we must equalise the state pension age for both men and women.

Forget the triple lock and the other measures to protect pensions that the Minister has just promoted; the simple fact is that according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies in future 14% of women will receive a lower income at state pension age than they would have under the current system. What discussions is the Minister having with colleagues from the Department for Work and Pensions to try to prevent that?

The new state pension is much more generous for many women. More than 3 million women stand to gain £550 a year by 2030 as a result of the changes.

May I take this opportunity to welcome the Minister to her place? As a fellow feminist, I am sure she will agree that we are talking about our mothers’ generation, who broke down the barriers on equal pay. What message does it send to their daughters, a generation burdened with huge amounts of student debt, when their mothers have been short-changed by the lack of transitional arrangements for their state pension? What incentive is there for younger women to trust the Government when it comes to saving for their future?

I thank the hon. Lady for her welcome.

What we have seen from the reforms that the Government have made is that women of her age and my age are doing more now to save for their future than ever before. It is really important to reflect that some of the previous arrangements dated back to the 1940s. The world has moved on an incredible amount since that time and, I would argue, absolutely for the better.