State Pension  

Pressure mounts to tackle state pension age changes

Pressure mounts to tackle state pension age changes

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has called the government to introduce transitional arrangements for women affected by an increase in their state pension.

The commission - a non-departmental public body in England and Wales sponsored by the Department for Education – published last week (February 25) a 65-page long update to its Women's rights and gender equality in 2018 report.

In the document, the EHRC mentions that this issue was recently raised by a United Nations independent expert, which noted that women affected by these changes were required to return to "a workforce for which many of them were ill-prepared and to which they could not reasonably have been expected to adjust with no notice".

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Campaign groups such as Backto60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality claim that when 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 movements 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.

Backto60 is requesting the state pension age to be kept at 60 for women born in the 1950s, but such a decision would cost £77bn and has previously been dismissed by the government.

In the document, the commission is also recommending the government to undertake a comprehensive communications campaign setting out the state pension age changes and their consequences, and where to access accurate and accessible information.

The Department for Work & Pensions should also make revisions to state pension statements in line with the recommendations made by the Work and Pensions select committee, the EHRC stated.

In 2016, the Parliamentary committee urged the government to send annual automatic state pension statements to all people aged 50 and over, which was dismissed by the government at the time since it would require IT changes for both DWP and HM Revenue & Customs systems.

A DWP spokesperson said: "The government decided more than 20 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality, and this has been clearly communicated.

"People are living longer so we need to raise the age at which all of us can draw a state pension so it is sustainable now and for future generations."

In November, it was revealed that Backto60 was granted permission to file a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A judicial review is a court proceeding in which a judge considers the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. It can't be filed directly; the court needs to be asked for permission first.

The campaign group, which claims to have 738,000 supporters, is being supported by a legal team led by renowned civil rights barrister Michael Mansfield.