Waspi women unhappy with Labour's pension concessions

Waspi women unhappy with Labour's pension concessions

One of the campaign groups fighting on behalf of women affected by changes to their state pensions has expressed concerns about the proposal put forward today (25 September) by Labour.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams is set to announce plans for women born in the 1950s to access a reduced state pension at the age of 64, when she speaks at 3.30pm at the party's conference in Brighton.

She is expected to say the proposal would be “cost neutral in the long run” and should be introduced “immediately”.

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But the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign has expressed concerns about the proposal because it would help some women but not others.

In a statement the campaign said: “If the media reporting is correct, the proposal being put forward by the Labour Party only applies to some Waspi women and is no better than the actuarial reduced pension suggested some time ago and rejected by the Waspi campaign at the time.

“We await further details but we will not support a proposal which provides no compensation for Waspi women and would certainly not support a proposal which pits us against each other.”

The 1995 Pensions Act increased women's state pension age from 60 to age 66 to bring it in line with men. 

Any woman due to reach age 60 before 2010 kept her pension age. 

Women born after 6 April 1950 saw their state pension age gradually rise until those born after 6 April 1955 had their state pension paid from age 66 just like men. 

The Waspi campaign has argued around 2.6m women lost out because of the changes to pension law. 

But Royal London’s director of policy, and former Liberal Democrat pensions ministers, Steve Webb has warned that Labour’s proposal faces serious practical problems.   

He said: “Writing new primary legislation, getting it through Parliament, and implementing the change on the ground is likely to take at least two years.   

“If this legislation completed its passage through parliament during the 2018 to 2019 session, it would take at least another year to change government computer systems and to communicate effectively to all those who might be affected.   

“By the time the new law could be implemented, most of the women who had the shortest notice of state pension age changes would already be drawing a state pension.

“Under equalities legislation it is unlikely that this new option could be made available only to women.

“In addition, there are serious practical problems with allowing people to opt for an early pension which is permanently paid at a lower level than the full state pension.   

“For example, if the scheme is to be cost neutral, they would not be allowed to claim pension credit or other benefits to top up their low income.  But if they could not do so then they could be living permanently below the poverty line throughout their retirement.”

The Labour Party also said today (25 September) that it wants to impose a cap on interest payments on consumer credit card debt, warning levels of debt are a threat to the economy.