Millions of women had their state pension age delayed – in some cases twice and by up to six years in total – without proper notice.
That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the details of how they were informed of the changes which has now been obtained from the Department for Work and Pensions. It reveals
- The Government did not write to any woman affected by the rise in pension ages for nearly 14 years after the law was passed in 1995.
- More than one million women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1953 were told at age 58 or 59 that their pension age was rising from 60, in some cases to 63
- More than half a million women born 6 April 1953 to 5 April 1955 were told between the ages of 57 and nearly 59 that their state pension age would be rising to between 63 and 66.
- Some women were told at just 57½ that their pension age would rise from 60 to 66.
- Women were given five years less notice than men about the rise in pension age to 66
- The Government now says that in future anyone affected by a rise in state pension age must have ten years’ notice. None of these women had that much notice nor did the men affected by the change.
This Blog has been asked to remind readers that there is a petition, “Make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950’s women” with more than 50,000 signatures.
The government has responded to this petition, and it may be worth noting what was said:
“Both the 1995 and 2011 changes followed on from public calls for evidence. The Government has notified the women affected by the State Pension age changes. Following the 2011 changes, DWP wrote to all those directly affected to inform them of the change to their State Pension age – using the address details recorded by HMRC at the time. Mailing to these individuals, due to reach State Pension age between 2016 and 2026, was completed between January 2012 and November 2013, subject to the accuracy of their address details with HMRC. Letters to women with a State Pension age determined by the 1995 timetable (born between 6th April 1950 and 5th April 1953) were sent between April 2009 and March 2011. The DWP also has information on State Pension age changes and who they affect on gov.uk. This includes State Pension age timetables, impact assessments (including an impact assessment for the 2011 Pensions Act) and a State Pension age calculator. In addition, the State Pension age equalisation changes were built into the State Pension statement IT system; introduced in 2001. Therefore, statements produced on request using this system would have included women’s new State Pension ages as determined by the 1995 Pensions Act.
“The Government will not be revisiting the State Pension age arrangements for women affected by the 1995 or 2011 Acts. The Government carried out extensive analysis of the impacts of bringing forward the rise to 66 when legislating for the change (impact assessment available at Gov.uk). The decision to amend the timetable originally set out in the bill, to cap the maximum increase at 18 months rather than 2 years, was informed by this analysis.
“All women affected by faster equalisation will reach State Pension age after the introduction of the new State Pension. The new State Pension will be more generous for many women who have historically done poorly under the current, two-tier system – largely as a result of lower average earnings and part-time working. Around 650,000 women reaching State Pension age in the first ten years will receive an average of £8 per week (in 2014/15 earnings terms) more due to the new State Pension valuation of their National Insurance record.
“Regular consideration of State Pension age is necessary to ensure the pensions system remains sustainable as life expectancy grows. The 2014 Act provides for a 6-yearly review, to take into account up-to-date life expectancy data and the findings of an independently-led review. The first review will conclude by May 2017 and will consider, amongst a number of other factors, the impact of State Pension age change on women.
“The policy decision to increase women’s State Pension age is designed to remove the inequality between men and women. The cost of prolonging this inequality would be several billions of pounds. Parliament extensively debated the issue and listened to all arguments both for and against the acceleration of the timetable to remove this inequality. The decision was approved by Parliament in 2011 and there is no new evidence to consider.”
The last paragraph is very interesting. It states that the intention is to remove inequality – but the very next sentence shows that it is in fact about cost.
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