State Pension: Impact of Changes on Women

Part of Opposition Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:45 pm on 26th September 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin 5:45 pm, 26th September 2016

I support the motion. This is an issue of equality and, in this case, gender equality. The pension changes were designed to give people long-term clarity about how much they could expect to receive and to allow for a planned approach for later life, but this did not happen for a group of women born in the early 1950s who are coming to pension age. The changes left this group of women, born between 1951 and 1953, not eligible for pension benefits although a man born on the same day is, or may be. This gives rise to inequality affecting a group of women in the North. A number of people have mentioned 68,000 women. I do not actually know the exact number, but it seems to me that the women in this narrow birth cohort are caught between two pieces of legislation.

This group of women does not disagree with proposals to reduce gender inequality in the state pension but they feel aggrieved that they will just miss out financially, whereas men born between these dates will be treated differently. That, to me, seems unfair. Yes, the majority of women born between the stated dates will be better off, but that number of women needs to be addressed.

Another change that caused the problem in this issue was the coalition's acceleration of the pension changes. Campaigners for these women, who had their state pension age unexpectedly pushed back, state that they either were not informed about the changes or were informed of them late, as a number of Members said, meaning they had little time to prepare. Let me give two examples. A woman who turned 60 this year has not received any information about the changes. She was the primary carer for her children and was unable to work due to disability, but she now has to work for a number of years extra to make up her pension. To give another example of how these women can be impacted, there is a woman who has had to push back her retirement several times, and now, aged 63, she still has to work part-time to make ends meet.

Most of the things said about this issue show that it is about women, equality and fairness. The group Women Against State Pension Inequality describes this as new permanent inequality.