Barbara has condemned the Conservative Government for making women born in the 1950s unfairly bear the brunt of the changes to the state pension age without help. The Government brought in changes in 2011 which accelerated the increase in State Pension Age for women born in the 1950s. In the worst cases state pension age changed from 60 to 66, based on Pensions Act changes started in 1995 but were not communicated to many of the women affected.
Speaking in a debate in Parliament, Barbara questioned why suitable help and support was not offered to the women affected by the rapid changes. She also questioned why the Conservative Government had failed to consider different support schemes for people who have worked all their lives and who find themselves ill, redundant or unemployed in their 60s after making a lifetime of work and contributions.
Barbara asked why the Conservative Government had not looked at a bridge pension scheme, as some other EU states have done, and why measures like concessionary travel or winter fuel payments had not been brought forward for women over 60 to ease the impact of the changes in state pension age.
“I told the Minister that we should be ashamed to have a system that treats women born in the 1950s in this way. The women affected have worked all their lives, many have brought up children and paid more than 40 years of national insurance contributions. Very few of them ever had equal pay, and certainly not equal chances of an occupational pension. Despite this the Conservative Government is taking £30 billion off those women born in the 1950s, which could mean as much as £36,000 per woman affected by the increase in the state pension age.
“Finding suitable employment when you are in your 60s is not the same as looking for work in your teens and 20s. I have been contacted by women in Worsley and Eccles South who are affected by the changes and who are unemployed or who took redundancy hoping to retire at 60. They tell me that suitable work or support programmes simply do not exist. Why did the Conservative Government not look at ways to help the women affected instead of leaving them to bear the brunt of the costs alone?
“Female life expectancy is considerably lower in some areas of Worsley and Eccles South. If women in those areas have to work until they are 66, they will have not have many years left to enjoy their retirement. In more affluent parts of the country, people can look forward to 20 or 30 years of retirement but it could now be less than 10 years in some parts of Salford. I want to know why women in Salford should bear the cost of the state pension age increase when they may enjoy less from their pensions than other parts of the country.
“I am calling on the Conservative Government to bring in transitional arrangements to help women in Salford and across the country who are affected by the rapid increases in the state pension age.”