State Pension 

Opperman defends pension age communication

Opperman defends pension age communication

Guy Opperman has defended the government's communication of state pension age equalisation, saying there had been numerous mentions of it in the media.

In a written answer to Parliament published yesterday (20 November), the minister for pensions and financial inclusion said there were more than 600 mentions of state pension age equalisation in the national broadsheet and tabloid press between 1993 and 2006.

These "represent an average of just under one per week", on front pages, news and city sections as well as personal finance pages, and most concentrated in 1993-95 and again from 2005-06, he added.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not have any record of using paid newspaper advertising to specifically advertise state pension age changes since 2010, Mr Opperman conceded.

Two pension acts introduced changes to the state pension age for both men and women, also equalising it between genders.

The Pensions Act 1995 provided for the state pension age for women to increase from 60 to 65 over the period April 2010 to 2020.

The coalition government legislated in the Pensions Act 2011 to accelerate the latter part of this timetable, starting in April 2016 when women’s state pension was 63 so that it would reach 65 in November 2018.

The equalised state pension age would then rise to 66 by October 2020. The reason was increases in life expectancy since the timetable was last revised.

Movements such as the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) and Backto60, have been campaigning about this issue, claiming that changes introduced in the 1995 act were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

The groups also claim 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.

FTAdviserreported this week that a United Nations independent expert has agreed with the idea that certain women have been affected disproportionately by the pension age changes.

Meanwhile, Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Work and Pensions, has asked the new Work and Pension secretary, Amber Rudd, to address this issue.

He wrote to Ms Rudd to call for action from the government on the issue of women receiving a reduced state pension in old age due to having not claimed child benefit to which they were entitled or who made simple paperwork errors.

He said: "This is a government happy to let two sets of women live in potentially reduced circumstances through no real fault of their own, while at the same time pushing through a budget which contained tax cuts for some of the highest earners in the land.

"It shows that the government, blinded by a Brexit bedlam of its own making, has lost even the most basic common sense in policy making. I hope that Amber Rudd will address this in her new role."

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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