Last week I joined my Labour colleagues in calling for the government to bring forward proposals for transitional arrangements for women adversely affected by the speeding up of the state pension age.
The issue is of growing prominence as women affected by both the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts begin to retire in July this year. Over the next four years, women’s state pension age will rise by nearly three years.
Labour supports the equalisation of the state pension age for women to 65. What we don’t support is the unfair way this government is implementing the changes. With little personal notice, the government brought forward the timetable for change. Women’s state pension age will now be 65 by 2018 and 66 by 2020, instead of 65 by 2020 as was previously promised. Here in Heywood and Middleton, almost 5000 women will be worse off because of the changes, and many have already been in touch with me to ask for help. In the country as a whole, around 2.6 million women will be affected.’
The consequences of this are far reaching. Hundreds of thousands of women in this country are having to change their retirement plans at short notice, and if possible they are having to dig into their savings or rely on a partner’s pension. What makes it worse is that the Tories are putting in no transitional arrangements.
WASPI launched an online a petition which has so far secured more than 160,000 signatures, and in parliament my Labour colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the government to bring forward proposals for transitional arrangements. However, the government have refused to re-visit the issue, and have repeatedly ignored the pleas of the WASPI campaign and MPs like me who have raised it in parliament.
Last week Labour held an opposition day debate and forced a vote on transitional state pension arrangements, making it clear that it’s not good enough for the Tories to just look the other way. I was proud to speak in that debate on behalf of the many women who have contacted me, and to make the point on their behalf that all they are looking for is fair treatment and fair transitional arrangements. Sadly, the Tories voted against this yet again.
I will keep applying as much pressure as I can on the government to address this injustice. For the sake of the thousands of women affected, inaction is no longer an option.