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We all know that women are affected by changes to the retirement age, and Ministers and their officials have met and corresponded with hundreds of women about pensions reform. The changes have been subject to many recent parliamentary debates, and the Government’s position has been made clear.
Indeed the Government’s position has been made clear, and they are cloth-eared in listening to women who are affected by these pension changes. If the Minister had been present yesterday in the debate on providing transitional protection for women affected by the pensions changes, she would have heard Conservative Members—indeed, Members from every party in the House—cite individual women who have been degraded and impoverished by these changes. When will the Government begin to listen to them?
I did listen to that debate, while I was also in another debate in Westminster Hall. Let us be clear: the Government have listened to extensive concerns that have been raised in the House, and concessions worth more than £1 billion were introduced to lessen the impact of the changes for those worst affected. The previous Government introduced future changes to the state pension age for women and men, following extensive debates in both Houses of Parliament. Importantly, the Government have made difficult but necessary decisions when it comes to speeding up the timetable for the equalisation of the pension age.
Women born in 1953 and 1954 are particularly badly affected by these changes. Many of them went into work at the age of 15, and will have to work more than 50 years before they can access their pension. Will the Government have another look at this? There are things that can be done if the political will is there.
The Government have listened extensively to the concerns raised, and they have also worked with pensions organisations. To reiterate, the Government have made concessions of £1 billion, which have been introduced to lessen the impact of the changes on those affected.