Petition Make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950’s women
That this Government without delay recognises the need for a non-means tested bridging pension for women born on or after 6/4/1950 who are affected by the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts and compensate those at risk of losing up to around £45,000, to also give proper notification for any future changes.
The 1995 Conservative Government’s Pension Act included plans to increase women’s SPA to 65, the same as men’s. 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. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences.
Since 1995 the Government has gone to significant lengths to communicate SPa changes. There will be no further concessions on this issue to avoid placing an unfair burden on working age people.
Read the response in full
State Pension age (SPa) changes
The Government took necessary action in response to rapid rises in longevity by increasing men and women’s SPa in the Pensions Act 2011. This accelerated the equalisation of women’s SPa by 18 months and brought forward the increase in men and women’s SPa to 66 by five and a half years, relative to the previous timetables. Failing to act in light of compelling demographic evidence would have been irresponsible and would have placed an unfair fiscal burden on the working population.
The Government has done a huge amount to improve pensions for all, particularly women. Future women pensioners stand to benefit on average from a higher new State Pension payment, from the expansion of Automatic Enrolment, and our Fuller Working Lives strategy. And a woman retiring today can still expect to receive the State Pension for over 24.5 years on average – three years longer than men. If State Pension ages had not been equalised, women would be expected to spend over 40% of their adult life in retirement.
The Government has taken this issue very seriously and has looked at a range of alternative options, including options considered by Parliament during the passage of the 2011 Act. This resulted in a £1.1bn concession, which capped the increase in SPa at 18 months relative to the 1995 timetable, and benefited almost a quarter of a million women who would otherwise have experienced delays of up to two years.
All alternative options offered by stakeholders to mitigate the impact on those affected come at significant cost to the public purse. Reversing the Pensions Act 2011 would cost over £30bn, whilst returning to a female SPa of 60 would cost in excess of £70bn by 2020/21 alone (with £38bn needing to be found in this tax year alone), and would generate a new cliff-edge and inequality between women and men.
Introducing further concessions cannot be justified given the imperative to focus public resources on helping those most in need.
Helping people work for longer
The Government is committed to supporting people aged 50 years and over to remain in and return to work. The number of older women in work is now at a record high: there are around 1 million more women aged 50+ in work than in 2010. The average age of exit from the labour market for women is currently 63.6 – well above the previous women’s SPa of 60.
Government has reformed legislation to create the right framework to support Fuller Working Lives. We have removed the Default Retirement Age, meaning it is now unlawful to dismiss someone just because they reach age 65. We have also extended the right to request flexible working to all employees with six months continuous service, so that people can negotiate a work pattern that suits their circumstances.
Our ‘Fuller Working Lives Strategy: A Partnership Approach’, published in February 2017, aims to increase the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers, and bring about a change in the perceptions and attitudes of employers.
We have also appointed a Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, supported by a team of employers at Business In The Community, to spearhead Government’s work and actively promote the benefits of older workers to employers across England – influencing them both strategically and in terms of practical advice.
The Government is also committed to supporting the vulnerable and spends around £50 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions alone. Whilst Carers Allowance and related benefits provide financial support and safeguards for carers and their families, including those who are ill or have disabilities.
Communication of SPa changes
Since 1995 the Government has gone to significant lengths to communicate SPa changes, including high-profile campaigns and writing directly to those affected.
Significantly, in the last 17 years the Department has provided over 18 million personalised State Pension estimates to people who requested them (either online or by telephone or post; and based on old and new State Pension rules). The Department has encouraged people to request these as part of their long-term financial planning – after all, retirement is a life changing financial decision and there is an expectation that people will plan for this.
There is no legal obligation to write to people to tell them about changes in their SPa. In the years after the 1995 legislation (1995 to 2011) this equalisation was frequently reported in the media and debated at length in parliament. People were notified with leaflets, an extensive advertising campaign was carried out, and later individual letters were posted out. The changes in the 2011 Act occurred following a public Call for Evidence and extensive debates in Parliament.
Increasing life expectancy is a cause for celebration but it also presents significant fiscal pressures as relatively fewer working age people are called upon to support a growing number of pensioners. The old age dependency ratio is set to increase by one quarter over the next 25 years – from 301 pensioners for every 1,000 working age people today, to 375 pensioners for every 1,000 working age people by 2042.
With the increasing financial pressures described, we cannot unpick a policy that has been in place for 22 years. It is simply not affordable, especially when we take into account that the average woman reaching State Pension age last year will get a higher state pension income over her lifetime than an average woman reaching SPa at any point before.
There will be no further concessions on this issue as this would require people of working age, and more specifically younger people, to bear an even greater share of the cost of the pensions system.
Department for Work and Pensions
At 100,000 signatures...
At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament