State Pension 

Tories repeat calls for Waspi women to become apprentices

Tories repeat calls for Waspi women to become apprentices

A Tory MP suggested yesterday (29 November) that there is nothing wrong with 65-year-old women taking apprenticeships to make up for financial losses due to changes to the state pension age.

In a debate yesterday (29 November) at the House of Commons about the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement, Conservative MP Rachel Maclean said the government had already allocated £1bn to help the affected women and proposed apprenticeships to encourage working in later life.

Her comments echo those of colleague Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, who was heckled by fellow MPs back in July as he appeared to suggest women in their 60s who are facing poverty in retirement become apprentices.

Ms Maclean said: "What exactly is wrong with a 65-year-old woman taking up an apprenticeship? I am not talking about all women, but why would any woman be denied the chance to work at 65?

"The idea does not apply to all women — no one is saying it does — but research shows that when women take up such opportunities at the age of 65, they report increased satisfaction."

Waspi claims that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

The group also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.

Ms Maclean remarks were considered “completely out of touch” by Labour MP Laura Pidcock, who said she was "offended on behalf of these women".

The debate, originated by a Scottish National Party (SNP) motion, called for the government to introduce better transitional arrangements for the section of women affected by the state pension changes.

Even though the motion had 288 votes in favour and none against, it is not binding, as Conservatives MPs abstained.

The Waspi movement will feature again in Parliament discussions on 14 December, as the Backbench Business Committee will debate the issue of the way the increased state pension age for women was communicated following a request by Labour MP Grahame Morris, who is also the author of a second Waspi petition.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman has intervened to speed up responses to complaints from Waspi against the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), regarding what they call an inadequate communication of changes to the state pension age.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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