In yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on the transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s, local MP Ruth Cadbury revealed that 4,470 women in Brentford and Isleworth are affected by changes in the state pension age.
Using House of Commons Library research and statistics provided by Richard Graham MP who sits on the House of Commons Work and Pensions committee, Ruth Cadbury estimated that of those affected by the change, 1300 will not be fully aware of the changes to their state pension.
Ruth Cadbury said ‘Like many MPs, over the past few months I have had a flurry of emails from women who are extremely concerned about their future and how the equalisation will affect them financially. They are rightly angry about the lack of fairness. The fact that women were given just two years’ notice of a six-year increase in their state pension age, while men received six years’ notice of a one-year rise, is representative of just how unfair the changes are’.
Ruth Cadbury is generally supportive of the equalisation of state pension age but argues that transitional arrangements must be made to give women time to plan for their retirement.
She also highlighted that in the UK older women often have difficulty seeking employment and often end up in low pay, low status jobs with zero-hours contracts. She said ‘Many of those women had career breaks. Many earned less than men doing equivalent work, and many suffered gender discrimination in the era before the Equal Pay Act 1970. Many [women affected by the changes] were working at a time when few women worked in well remunerated professional roles with occupational pensions.’
Ruth used an example of a local woman who wrote to her directly, ‘one constituent of mine was not informed of the changes and only found out due to divorce proceedings. She was formerly a pro tennis player and a coach. Due to the nature of her field, she had to retire from the sport as she got older and retrained in childcare to get her through to 60. It is now not only too late for her to retrain in another field, but too early for her to retire. She is stuck struggling with the demands of caring for small children and counting down the days until she can finally retire.’
‘We cannot overlook the misery that this change is causing people. The former Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, said that his one regret during his tenure was that he “pushed too hard and too fast on raising women’s state pension age” I plead with the current Minister to learn from the mistakes of the past’.