Pensions  

Altmann rules out unravelling Pensions Act

Altmann rules out unravelling Pensions Act

Pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann has said she was “astonished” to hear what a campaign group she was once involved with was currently demanding.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign is campaigning against changes which saw the pension age of women born in the 1950s increased as part of the equalisation process.

Before becoming a minister Baroness Altmann had been involved in the campaign but yesterday (18 January) she told the work and pensions select committee that she could not support Waspi’s recent demands.

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She said: “I was reading over the evidence given by the campaign group to the committee and I really was quite astonished because what they are calling for, which I have never supported and I don’t support, is to actually undo the 1995 Pensions Act.

“It would cost around £30bn to undo the 2011 changes. It would cost multiples of that to undo the 1995 act.

“I understand why they are asking for it but that is never something that has ever been on the table. State pension (age) has been rising from age 60 since 2010 - we are five years on.”

State pension age increases equalisation measures for men and women began to take effect in 2010, but recently chancellor George Osborne revised the timetable and announced a much quicker schedule than originally planned

This meant the increase to age 65 will happen between 2016 and 2018, and then both sexes’ pension age will increase to 66 by 2020 rather than by 2026.

The gradual increase of the state pension has meant that some women who are currently weeks away from their former state pension age could find themselves now months away from their new state pension age.

In addition, data from the DWP showed only 20,000 women out of more than 400,000 claimants will get the full state pension in its first year.

There have been criticisms that the DWP did not communicate the changes to women well enough.

But Richard Caseby, director of communications at the Department for Work & Pensions, said: “Between the years 2003 and 2006 the DWP issued around 16m letters called Automatic Pension Forecasts.

“Apparently, well before my time, here was a leaflet accompanying the letter containing information about state pension age and how it was increasing for women.

“There was an effort to tell women about this.”

He added analysis showed only a third of people even remembered receiving the letter and fewer said they read it.

Mr Caseby said: “An unprompted letter is not necessarily the most successful way of communicating with anyone.”

Baroness Altmann said: “The real lesson is education and communication, and trying to get people to take responsibility.

“Don’t just assume you know what you are going to get. Check it. Check it along the way.”