State Pension  

UN committee urges govt to act on state pension age

UN committee urges govt to act on state pension age

A United Nations committee has urged the government to ensure the increase in state pension age does not have a discriminatory impact on women.

In its comments on the UK’s eighth periodic report, published on Monday (March 11), the UN committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed its concern regarding the increase in the state pension age for women from 60 to 66.

It stated that the several legislative changes had affected the pension entitlements of women born in the 1950s, and were contributing to "poverty, homelessness and financial hardship among the affected women".

The committee monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Described as an international bill of rights for women, the international treaty was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, instituted in 1981, and ratified by 189 states.

Backto60, a campaign group requesting the state pension age be kept at 60 for women born in the 1950s, gave evidence to the committee.

Along with other campaign groups like Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi), Backto60 is arguing the changes had contributed to perceived 'inequality and unfair treatment' of women born in the 1950s.

The groups claim 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 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.

In response to the UN committee's questions about what measures were being taken to address the negative impact of the state pension age changes, the government stated the matter had been "subject to significant Parliamentary and media scrutiny".

According to the government, the decision to equalise men and women’s state pension was made more than 20 years’ ago in order to remove the "longstanding inequality" in state pension age.

"In addition, the decision to equalise at 65 for both genders was based on a growing recognition that demographic change was leading to a reducing old-age support ratio and the fact that an increasing number of European States were equalising their state pension age at 65 or older," it added.

The government also mentioned the success of auto-enrolment, which means the "workplace pension participation rate for eligible women is now near equal to that of eligible men," and the introduction of triple lock to uprate the state pension.

FTAdviser reported last week (March 6) that the Equality and Human Rights Commission - a non-departmental public body in England and Wales sponsored by the Department for Education – has called on the government to introduce transitional arrangements for the women affected by the state pension age increase.

maria.espadinha@ft.com