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Clause 1 — Equalisation of and increase in pensionable age for men and women

Part of Concessionary Bus Travel (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 5:15 pm, 18th October 2011

That is absolutely right. There is no doubt that this is a significant blow to these 500,000 women. That is why we have tabled our amendments. If they were passed this evening, the 330,000 women facing an 18-month hike in state pension age would have restored to them the average amount of £7,800. If they were on pension credit, they would also have restored to them up to £11,000 and all the other benefits that accrue at state pension age that my hon. Friend mentioned. I say it again: this is a serious, significant issue for a large group of women.

Our amendments offer the Government one last chance to show women that they get it. We are all aware of the Government’s growing problem with women voters. We hear the reports of the Prime Minister huddled in No. 10 surrounded by advisers and pollsters explaining to him just how grim the news is regarding the opinions of women voters. Support for this Government among women is falling off a cliff. According to the reports from inside No. 10, the pollsters are telling the Prime Minister that 25% more women than men believe that the economy is going in the wrong direction, while 10% more women than men are saying that cuts are falling unfairly on women—and no wonder, given this Bill, among other things. According to the leaks from inside No. 10, favourability towards the coalition among women is now 12 points lower than it was 18 months ago. Women are twice as likely to think that their children will have a worse life and less opportunity than their generation. Overall support from female voters for the Conservatives and for the Liberal Democrats has slipped significantly, and we know today that the Government are falling further behind in the polls.

Our amendments offer the Government a chance to show that they get it and that they understand that what matters to women is the impact of Government policies on their lives and the lives of their families. Our amendments offer the Government a chance to show belatedly, on an issue that matters, that they understand women’s priorities. I commend our amendments to the House.