I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents for transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s. Every constituency in this land will have thousands of women who have been affected by the changes to state pension provisions.
On Friday, in Porth in my constituency, I heard from one woman who had no idea she was going to be affected by these changes until I wrote her a letter about them. I think that the Government should have been notifying these women. I heard from another woman, who has worked for 43 years already in very strenuous, arduous jobs, and who has now had to take up three tough additional jobs at the age of 61 just to keep the wolf from the door, when the food bank in the Rhondda, which is based in Tylorstown, has had a dramatic increase in the number of elderly people, and particularly women, who are using it. It is perhaps an irony that the food bank is based in what used to be the Conservative club.
The injustice here is absolutely obvious. It is one thing to tell somebody at the age of 20 that they are going to have to work till 66, 67 or 68, but it is quite another to start telling people that when they are coming up to those years already, particularly in constituencies such as mine, where many of these women will be solely reliant on the state pension to make ends meet.
No woman was properly warned about this. The changes happened far too swiftly. Only 280 constituents have signed the petition, but I can assure the Government that if we had had a little longer in this Parliament, thousands would have signed up in the Rhondda. I just say to any Government that want to mess with the women of the Rhondda: they will see you off. I hope that presenting this petition will be the last thing I do in this Parliament, but I also hope that this issue will be the first I deal with in the next.
The petition states:
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951 who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age.
Following is the full text of the petition:
[The petition of residents of the Rhondda,
Declares that the 1995 Pensions Act has been implemented unfairly; further that Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), agree with equalisation, but don’t agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented — with little/no personal notice (1995/2011 Pension Acts), faster than promised (2011 Pension Act), and no time to make alternative plans; further that retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences; and further that hundreds of thousands of women have had significant changes imposed on them with a lack of appropriate notification.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951 who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age (SPA).
And the petitioners remain, etc.]