State Pension  

Govt to discuss solutions for 1950s women

Govt to discuss solutions for 1950s women
 Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for Work and Pensions

The secretary of state for Work and Pensions has agreed to meet with a group of MPs proposing a series of remedies for women affected by the state pension increase.

Thérèse Coffey said yesterday in parliament (October 7) that she would meet with Conservative MP Tim Loughton and Labour MP Carolyn Harris, co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women, in “due course”.

The group of MPs vowed last week to continue to use all means available – including private members’ bills – “to seek justice for all the women affected,” after the High Court rejected claims that increasing the state pension age for women born in the 1950s discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex.

Mr Loughton asked Ms Coffey for a meeting to discuss a series of measures proposed by the APPG in April 2018.

The first is making a non-means-tested pension credit available to all women aged 63 and over from the day it is approved until they reach state pension age, which won’t be backdated.

The APPG's second solution is to equalise women’s pensions, so that everyone receives a full state pension (£159 per week) regardless of the number of years of National Insurance contributions accrued.

Last but not least the MPs want to extend pension credit for those worst affected who have no other income or private pension available to them and are suffering financial hardship.

Plans to increase the state pension age were first announced in the Pension Act 1995 but the changes were accelerated as part of the Pension Act 2011.

Campaign groups The Women Against State Pension Inequality and Backto60 have claimed the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

The groups, which are calling for compensation for those affected, have also claimed that 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 its judicial review the High Court also rejected the women's claims that the government had failed to appropriately notify them of the impending changes.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, noted the judgment “indicated that the state, including the Labour government of 13 years, acted appropriately by giving due notification in the way that it did”.

However, if the decision was appealed and this was successful the government would respect this, he added.

“If there are any changes—two independent High Court judges heard the case and made the decision— clearly the government will obey that decision,” he said.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on fa.letters@ft.com to let us know.