The Scottish National Party has today unveiled independent research showing Tory figures on pension inequality are wrong and have called for immediate action to help the millions of women born in the 1950s who have been denied their pension.
The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated planned increases in women’s State Pension Age from 63 to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018, and from 65 to 66 by October 2020 – many women were never told of the changes and some women will now receive their state pension years later than they expected to.
The issue, which effects 2.6 million women in the UK, has been widely debated in the House of Commons and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) groups have worked tirelessly to campaign for the introduction of transitional measures but the UK Government has refused to act – saying that, at a cost of £30 billion it would simply be too expensive to correct their mistakes of the past.
But independent research by Landman Economics has found that it would cost £8 billion to return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pensions Act – a significantly cheaper option for the UK Government which would go some way to ending the gross injustice served to these women and would help to alleviate pensioner poverty.
The National Insurance Fund (NIF) had a £20.9 billion surplus at the end of March 2015 and the latest forecasts project a surplus of £26.3 billion at the end of this year and £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18.
Angus MP Mike Weir added
“Not only have these women had their retirement plans completely shattered, they were also badly let down by a UK Government that failed to adequately inform them of the changes.
It is estimated that there are 4,200 in Angus alone who have been affected by these changes, leaving many in difficulties with inadequate time and resources to make alternative provision.
When you consider that many women have historically been paid lower wages than their male counterparts or faced greater expectations to be the primary care giver it is clear to see that these women have been treated appallingly by this and previous UK Governments.
“£8 billion is not a small amount of money but it is a drop in the ocean for this Tory Government that thinks nothing of spending £167 billion on their nuclear-obsession by renewing the obsolete Trident weapons system – that’s twenty times the cost of ending pension inequality for these women.
“I hope that the UK Government will welcome this report and at last act to end the gross injustice these women are being forced to bear.
“If the Prime Minister is to live up to her rhetoric of working “not for the privileged few” it is time to end this inequality and deliver for the women of the 1950s.”
Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s Pensions spokesperson, said:
“A pension is not a privilege, it is an entitlement and yet millions of women born in the 1950s are struggling to make ends meet because they are being denied their pension – many women are facing real hardship and they need action now.
“The Tories have tried to wash their hands of this crisis but that is simply not good enough which is why the SNP decided to do the work for them. Our independently researched report reveals the five options immediately available to the UK Government to deliver dignity in retirement for the 2.6 billion women affected and ensure that the mistakes of the past are corrected.
“The second option would allow a return to the 1995 Pensions Act and would slow the rise of the state pension age for women to reach 65 by 2021. At £8 billion, this option is the second most expensive but it pales in comparison to the £30 billion figure often used by Tory politicians attempting to absolve themselves of any responsibility.
“The National Insurance Fund is billions of pounds in surplus and can be only be used to pay for contributory benefits such as the State Pension.
“Millions of pensioners, workers and their employers have no idea that the money they are paying in National Insurance contributions every month is not being used to pay higher pensions and benefits. The Tories have nowhere to hide anymore: they can afford to right the wrong that is impacting millions of women because they are being refused access to their pension and they must take immediate action.”