Owen’s Pontypridd Observer Column: Women affected by changes to state pension age

Last Wednesday I led an important debate in Parliament calling on the Government to do something about the unfairness of the increase in the state pension age for women born in the 1950s.

This issue is causing financial difficulties for millions of families across the UK and there are 3,500 1950’s women here in Pontypridd who have been caught out by the rule changes brought in by the Tories.

Anger about this issue is also rapidly rising, with one online petition attracting more than 150,000 signatures and forcing the Government to pay some attention. Yet time and again Government Ministers have failed to listen to this group of women and to understand the impact that their decisions has had on these women’s lives.

The 1995 Pensions Act increased the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020, to bring it in line with that of men. But in 2011 the coalition Government moved the goalposts. They decided to accelerate the rise in the women’s state pension age from April 2016 so that it reached 65 by November 2018, then rising to 66 by 2020.

Whilst Labour support the equalisation of State Pension Age we have always stressed that changes must be carefully implemented so that those who are affected are given adequate notice of the changes and have enough time to plan for the future.

2.6 million women across the UK have been affected by these changes. Many of these women have faced gender inequality in their working lives, having entered the world of work without even the protection of the 1970 Equal Pay Act. Many will also have taken time out of work to bring up children, will have worked part-time, and will not have had the chance to build up pension provision of their own in the same way as men of their age. This makes it all the more difficult for them to adapt to unexpected changes to their pension age.

Labour is standing up for those 2.6 million women and I am offering to help convene a cross-party commission to come together and identify a set of transitional arrangements that can command support of MPs from across the Commons.

During the debate I suggested six possible options the government could look at, and I will work with MPs from all parties to look at these options and get justice for the women who have been mistreated by the acceleration of the state pension age. You can watch my speech in the debate online at: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/cfb6f90e-444e-4cd6-bfaf-0e1cdfb0e294?in=13:33:30