State Pension: Impact of Changes on Women

Part of Opposition Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:00 pm on 26th September 2016.

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Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 6:00 pm, 26th September 2016

It has been an interesting debate. I thank Members for making their points. Let me say at the outset that I fully appreciate that women affected by the changes to the state pension age feel that they have been treated unfairly.

The state pension is and will remain an important part of income in later life. I will give some idea of scale: in 2014-15 the Department paid around £46 million per week in state pensions, which equates to approximately £2·4 billion per year. Moreover, that figure does not take account of other payments to pensioners such as housing and disability benefits.

State pension is paid largely from the Northern Ireland National Insurance fund. However, the fund is not self-sufficient, and, under the parity arrangements — Mr Durkan referred to why Northern Ireland should do its own thing — it receives an annual subvention from the Great Britain fund; for example, in 2015 it needed a subvention of £609 million.

I turn to the state pension age reforms, which were legislated for by the Pensions (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 —