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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 7:00 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 7:00 pm, 18th October 2011

I could not have put it better myself.

Another question that the Minister has to answer is whether the Government, in looking for the savings they plan to make by going down this road, have put into the mix the additional costs that might arise in relation to some of these women, some of whom will not be able to work and might claim benefits. Some might claim jobseeker’s allowance for a period and others might claim employment and support allowance if they are in ill health, although some of them will find that those benefits are cut off very quickly in certain circumstances because of other Government proposals. They will then be thrown back to spending any savings they may have made towards retirement.

A woman in her 50s or early 60s who finds herself in that position may not be able to claim benefit for very long. If she has a partner or has savings of any sort she will not be eligible for the means-tested benefits that come in after six months in the case of JSA and that, under Government proposals, will be lost after a year even for people who are unfit to work and are in a work-related activity group. They will find themselves eating up—literally in some cases—their savings to make it through to their postponed retirement date. Of course, at that stage, those women will no doubt have to claim additional top-ups to help their financial situation. I would like to be satisfied that the Government have taken those costs into account. The women themselves will have to meet extra costs, and so will the Government. The proposal is ill-thought-out and there has been a lot of time to rethink it. Like all the women who have been campaigning on this, I am extremely disappointed that the Government are not prepared to support our amendment tonight.