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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Mhairi Black Mhairi Black Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire South 11:33 am, 7th January 2016

I want to make some progress.

Some people say, “You should not have to be written to. It’s your pension, you should be keeping an eye on it. You should be looking out for reports and things, and take responsibility.” But when giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee, financial journalist Paul Lewis told us that after researching this himself he could barely find any reporting of the issue at all in 1995. There were a few small press cuttings from the business pages at the back of some newspapers. A freedom of information request revealed that the Government did fund “broader” awareness campaigns, which ran in waves between 2001 and 2004, but that these campaigns

“did not focus on equalisation in particular”.

In fact, only one of the press adverts in those campaigns was focused on this issue—one press cutting roughly seven years after this had already been passed into law. It is quite evident that this whole thing became a total mess. I do not know whether it was not reported deliberately, for political reasons or fear of ramifications, or whether it was a genuine accident, but what I do know is that women were not notified. It was not reported and they were not given enough time to be able to make appropriate arrangements.

This brings us on to the Pensions Act 2007, which increased the equalised state pension age from 65 to 66 between 2024 and 2026. It gave all affected people 17 years’ notice. That is fair enough, but then we come on to what Andrew Gwynne mentioned, the Pensions Act 2011. That came along and said, “Forget the 17 years’ notice, we’re going to rush this through. We need to do this right now.” The 2011 Act accelerated pension age equalisation for women and the subsequent increase to 66, effective from October 2016 onwards, meaning that affected women had only five years’ notice to try to remedy life plans that had been in place for years.