Pensions 

Opperman brands Waspi problem fix 'pension inequality'

Opperman brands Waspi problem fix 'pension inequality'

The pension minister has dismissed calls to help women affect by an increase in the state pension age, saying it would increase inequality.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said today (14 December) at the Parliament that providing full transitional state pension arrangements to women born in the 1950s would potentially increase inequality.

The debate took place in the House of Commons, after a second petition from the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement on this matter.

Mr Opperman said: “Full compensation would represent a cost of over £77bn to the public purse.

“These changes would require new legislation, which could mean an inequality potentially being created between men and women.”

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.

Mr Opperman justified the increases in the state pension.

He said: “The decisions considering the rise in state pension age by consecutive governments were reached by reasons of equality legislation, increased life expectancy and the sustainability of the state pension.”

The petition, launched by Labour MP Grahame Morris’, had very similar terms to the first request launched by Waspi and discussed in Parliament last year.

He said: “We are creating an unnecessary generation of women many of them relying on food banks, some of whom forced to sell their homes and forced to rely on the benefits system, [this] is degrading for them.

“There are things that the government and the minister could do immediately, [such as] immediately extending pension credit to the group. It would cost £800m.”

In November, 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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