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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:13 pm on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Health) 12:13 pm, 7th January 2016

Before the 1995 Act changes, the independent Social Security Advisory Committee said that savings made on raising the state pension age should be spent on the most vulnerable groups, with help specifically for low-paid women, women returning to work and carers. That advice was not followed. Recently, a court in the Netherlands ruled that raising the state pension age could be considered a breach of the European convention on human rights. A woman in her 60s appealed against a two-year increase in her pension age because it created an “individual and excessive burden” on her. The court found in her favour. It is welcome that some Conservative Members who voted for the acceleration of the state pension age in 2011 are now supporting the WASPI campaign. However, other Conservative Members are blaming European legislation for the shabby treatment of the pensions of 1950s-born women—but the facts are against them.

When the Minister answered the debate on 2 December, he said:

“Equalisation was necessary to meet the UK’s obligations under EU law to eliminate gender inequalities in social security provision.”—[Hansard, 2 December 2015; Vol. 603, c. 145WH.]

The same point has been made to WASPI campaigners in replies from Conservative MPs. However, research done by the House of Commons Library and my own research show that that is not the case. EU law allows countries to have differences in their state pension age, and it also allows lengthy transitional arrangements to be made.

Library research notes that directive 79/7/EEC requires

“the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security.”