State Pension Age

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th December 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families) 12:00 am, 8th December 2016

If she will discuss with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the provision of further transitional support to women affected by the increase in the state pension age.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Housing)

If she will discuss with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the provision of further transitional support to women affected by the increase in the state pension age.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is fully aware of the issue, which we debated in this Chamber just last week. He has clearly stated that the introduction of further transitional arrangements cannot be justified given the imperative need to focus public resources on helping those in most need. There are no plans to go beyond the £1.1 billion concession introduced when Parliament considered the changes.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)

I thank the Minister for that response, disappointingly predictable as it was. Will she tell me whether anyone in Government at all has done an analysis of how much it would cost to implement transitional measures in comparison with what it will cost the Government reputationally and financially when the Women Against State Pension Inequality take them to court and win?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Consistent is how I would prefer to describe my answer. The Government have looked into a variety of different proposals that have come forward in many forms, both from the WASPI campaign and from Opposition parties. As I have very clearly stated, we will not make any further transitional arrangements.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Housing)

The Minister must know that the lack of transitional support is causing real hardship to women in her constituency, as it is in mine. In the interests of transparency, will she publish any proposals that have come up since the Pensions Act 2011? Will she publish them and the Government’s research, so we can see what they have done?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the welfare system provides a safety net for those experiencing hardship. We have made it very clear that we have already provided £1.1 billion in transitional concessions. The Government have published a great deal of figures on this subject. It is very difficult for the Government to publish further statistics on proposals that have come forward from both the WASPI campaign and Opposition parties when it is very unclear what provisions would be included around those transitional arrangements for women as well as men.

Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities, Women and Children)

With the effects of austerity being felt disproportionately by women, another Government policy affecting women is the 4% tax on child maintenance. Does the Minister accept that this places an additional tax on survivors of domestic violence, and will she ensure that that is addressed?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank the hon. Lady for that question, although I am not sure how it relates to the WASPI campaign. As she will know, I answered questions on this very subject at the Select Committee yesterday. Interestingly, no mention was made about the charges to parents in the collect and pay system. We are determined to encourage as many families as possible to have family-based arrangements. Indeed, even in cases where there has been domestic violence, the child maintenance service can step in to make sure that bank details can be passed safely, including using bank accounts that do not have a geographic location—they have a centralised sort code—so that we protect women and have as few families as possible within the collect and pay arrangements.