UK Waspi pensions campaign: The government must revisit changes to the state pension age that disadvantage women

Ian Blackford
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The women affected often experienced inequality in pay and opportunities early in their working lives (Source: Getty)

We in the SNP are not against equalisation of the state pension age; that’s not why we support the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign.

It's perfectly fair for men and women to retire at the same age. However, the pace of the process and the lack of transitional arrangements make up the real issue here.

To illustrate the problem, a woman born on the 10th February 1950 achieved pensionable age on 10 Feb 2010, aged 60. A woman born just five years later in 1955 won’t get her pension until 10 February 2012, aged 66 years.

The complex transitional arrangements currently in place mean that someone born on the 10th Feb 1953 got their first pension payment last month, in January 2016, aged 62 years and 10 months – while someone born a year later in 1954 must wait an additional two-and-a-half years until July 2019, aged 65 years and four months.

This can't be right - the pace of change is far too dramatic. Women of this generation had an expectation that, having paid national insurance contributions throughout their working lives, they were entitled to a state pension. The goalposts have not been moved, so much as smashed and broken.

Read more: Minister says women losing out due to state pension age changes should use "other benefits" such as job seekers allowance

We in the SNP believe that government has a responsibility to look after people who have worked and now look forward to retirement. Women who often experienced inequality in pay and opportunities early in their working lives are now to be faced with the prospect of having to wait for something to which they believed they had an unassailable right.

On 7th January , our SNP motion calling on the government to introduce better transitional arrangements for those women negatively affected by the changes was carried in parliament by 158 votes to zero.

But because this was a backbench debate, the decision was non-binding and the government, only a very few of whom actually attended the debate, are not compelled to act on it. What does that say about parliamentary democracy in this country?

One thing is crystal-clear: if we had powers over pensions in Scotland, the Scottish Government would do the right thing for our pensioners. The UK government plough on regardless, ignoring the claims of the Waspi () campaign and neglecting the needs of their people. ​

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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