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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:36 pm on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 1:36 pm, 7th January 2016

I wholeheartedly agree. There have been some noteworthy speeches from Government Members, but some that have sadly not met the same standard. I hope that the Minister will show some contrition and introduce transitional arrangements.

Many women who have had their retirement plans shattered will be forced, through no fault of their own, to accept zero-hours contracts—temporary and low paid contracts that offer no financial security and poor return for their labour when, relatively recently, they expected to be enjoying a hard-earned retirement. Little, if any, thought has been given to the many women who care for their grandchildren or elderly relatives. It is not always possible to return to work in those circumstances and at this time in their lives.

I, my SNP colleagues and many other hon. Members of all parties agree with the reasons for the equalisation of the state pension age. However, the increased speed of the plans, with poor notice and no transition arrangements, is of great concern. The Government are betraying women and I am worried that there will be further undue hardship if they do not address the blatantly evident inequality. Not transitioning appears to be another example of the Government making cuts in pursuit of their budget surplus holy grail, with no consideration of the impact.

The Government must take some responsibility for their failure not to notify and fully prepare women for a longer wait. That means bringing forward the transitional protection and righting the injustice for those already and those set to be affected. I hope that today we will not get the same complacent ministerial reply that we heard to the recent Westminster Hall debate in which I was involved.

The Government are being warned today that the campaign will not go away. The women in the WASPI campaign will fight this all the way, and will be supported wholeheartedly by my SNP colleagues and by Labour Members. The Government need to sort the matter out with the same speed with which they delivered tax cuts for the rich when they got the opportunity, or they will forever be remembered for their betrayal of pensioners, particularly female pensioners.

Several hon. Members rose