I am delighted to give my full backing to Labour's proposals to help end the plight of the tens of thousands of women affected by changes to their state pension age.
Under Labour's plan, Pension Credit will be extended to those who were due to retire before the chaotic pension age increase of the Conservative-led Coalition Government. This would alleviate the worst of the impacts for the most vulnerable women, and restore some of the dignity many of them feel they have been robbed of.
The Government’s changes have affected 2.6 million women, who would have retired under the 1995 Pensions Act. Labour plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women, ensuring that they are not forced into the Government’s punitive social security regime.
I have spoken many times in support of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign, and recently submitted a petition to parliament signed by local people calling for the government to act on the issue. The determination of the Waspi women for justice is inspirational.
I have been pleased to read the words of Labour's Shadow Pensions Minster, Alex Cunningham MP, who has said: ‘The government has completely failed to act to address the plight of these women. That’s why Labour are committing to the extension of Pension Credit to support the vulnerable women affected by the government’s chaotic approach to the state pension. We call on the Government to address the concerns that are being raised by thousands of women up and down the country by implementing our proposals. They must follow Labour’s lead and act immediately to minimise any further hardship.’
The lack of notice given to 1950s women regarding changes in the state pension age by the Government has left many facing real hardship. Women in Heywood and Middleton should not have to bear the brunt of Tory economic mismanagement.
The Labour Party is calling on the government to implement these plans in the Autumn Statement, to give vulnerable women in Heywood and Middleton some stability until their delayed state pension is available. The concession would operate for affected women up to 2022.
Labour are also developing solutions for those affected who would not be entitled to means-tested Pension Credit under these proposals. It is however vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women here and across the country who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.
We are now acting where the government has refused and I will continue to fight for women who have been failed by this government.