State Pension Age: Women

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:55 pm on 30th November 2016.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 4:55 pm, 30th November 2016

Indeed. Like my hon. Friend, who has considerable expertise in this area, I have read the reports that suggest that the gap between childcare responsibilities and elderly care responsibilities for many families will get narrower and narrower. We are now piloting people who will teach employers about how to deal with workers who are also carers. As with the point made by my hon. Friend David Rutley, we are in the early stages of a journey that will become hugely important for society and the whole workforce in future decades.

Let me make some progress, as I am conscious of the time. I said I wanted to deal with women who find it impossible to work, and of course the system needs to be designed to deal with problems such as disability that prevent them from working and mean that they are most in need as they approach state pension age. We are committed to supporting these vulnerable groups, spending around £50 billion a year on disability benefits, which equates to more than 6% of all Government spending. Carers allowance and related benefits provide financial support and safeguards for carers and their families, including those who are disabled or who are ill, and this week I was pleased to announce that the earnings limit for carers will be uprated by £6, which will help those with caring responsibilities.

Early in the new year, we will propose a new strategy specifically for elderly workers—the fuller working lives strategy—and I would be very happy to deal with colleagues on both sides of the House who have questions about how we can specifically help older workers in general and, specifically, older women. I do not believe that a monopoly of wisdom in this area lies in Whitehall. We will propose a new strategy that will involve many Departments, but we will also need to include ideas from employers, charities and Members and their constituents.