David Hencke’s ever-informative Westminster Confidential site provides this update on the struggle to get restitution for women who have been harmed by changes to the pension system:
One of London’s top law firms has written to Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, inviting him to agree to mediation talks to end the long suffering impasse on awarding compensation to the now 3.5 million 50s born women who had to wait another six years before they got their pension.
[A] report into the issue was published at the end of November and concluded that there was direct discrimination … women who were born from 1950 to 1960 had been singled out to wait for their pension while everyone else was unaffected.
It has also to be taken into account that 9.8m men were given 5 years free auto credits to retire 5 years early, aged 60, whilst the state pension of 3.8m 1950’s women was twice deferred, by stealth, and they were then coerced back to work for up to another 6 years having been denied the promised similar auto credits awarded to men.
The report [was hand-delivered] to Rishi Sunak at Downing Street just before it was published. It was also delivered to Robert Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, who is currently involved in a long inquiry into how much the women should be compensated after finding partial maladminstration.
It might be instructive to contrast this with another case of discrimination against women, that has been in the news recently; I refer to that of Birmingham City Council, which used a bonus scheme that unfairly benefited men more than women while it was run by a Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition and then was under no overal control, between 2004 and 2010.
After a court battle, the council was ordered to pay £760 million to settle equal pay claims – and attempting to comply has caused the council to declare (effective) bankruptcy. Tory MPs have made a big fuss of the fact that a council that is now run by Labour has been financially embarrassed, even though it was their party that caused the problem.
The UK government cannot go bankrupt; it can always issue currency to cover any spending it has to make (although there should be a balancing tax take, to counter inflation).
But, so far, it has resisted calls to compensate women harmed by the state pension changes, even though those changes were clearly discriminatory against them.
Hypocrisy? What gives the Tory government the right to avoid a responsibility that the law has thrust onto a local authority – with the enthusiastic support of Tory MPs?
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