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State Pension Age (Women)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 7th January 2016.

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Photo of Sue Hayman Sue Hayman Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:08 pm, 7th January 2016

I want briefly to talk about the situation of two women who have contacted me. The first was born in July 1953 and expected to retire at 60. This initially increased to 62 years and three months. She had no problem with that because she had been given plenty of notice and agreed with the gradual move towards equality of retirement age for men and women. Then, of course, with no warning, the retirement age was increased, so she now has to wait until she is 64 before she gets her higher state pension. The injustice is in the way it has been done—on a sliding scale—which means that some people in her class at school will get their pensions almost two years before her, despite their having worked for the same length of time and the same number of pension years. My constituent is still working but says she is fortunate because she has a good civil service pension. She is deeply concerned, however, that many other women rely on their state pension and now find they have to wait for many more years to get it, as discussed this afternoon.

Another constituent of mine is in that unfortunate position. She worked for 20 years as a secretary, and although the male workers in the company were automatically enrolled in the company pension scheme, women were not. It was very different for women in those days. My constituent has arthritis and is continuing to work as a cleaner because she simply cannot afford not to. She also agrees with pension reform to equalise the retirement age. That is not a problem for women; it is the way it is being done that is so very upsetting. Younger women have had to time to adjust to, and plan for, these retirement dates and the changes. Women such as my constituent, however, do not have that opportunity.

I am willing to give the Government the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps they did not understand just how many women would be affected. I can accept that, but what I cannot get my head around is why they are refusing to look at it again. To me, this is simply callous. You know so many women are being affected; you could look again; you could listen; you could change things—[Interruption.] Apologies, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I ask the Government to look again at the people who have been disproportionately affected. They should listen to what those people are saying and get up and do something to help.