The Pensions Act 1995 provided for the State Pension age (SPA) for women to increase from 60 to 65 over the period April 2010 to 2020. The Coalition Government legislated in the Pensions Act 2011 to accelerate the latter part of this timetable, so that women’s SPA will now reach 65 in November 2018. The reason given by the government increased in life expectancy since the timetable was last revised.
From the 1940s until April 2010 the SPA was 60 for women and 65 for men. Provision to equalise the SPA for men and women by increasing the SPA for women from 60 to 65 in stages between April 2010 and 2020 was included in the Pensions Act 1995. In the Pensions Act 2007, the previous Labour Government made provision to increase the equalised SPA to 66 over two years starting from April 2024, to 67 over two years starting in April 2034 and to 68 over two years starting in April 2044.4 In 2011 and 2014 the Coalition Government legislated to accelerate the timetables set out in the 1995 and 2007 Acts. The Pensions Act 2011 brought forward the increase in SPA to 65 to November 2018 and 66 by October 2020 (i.e. four years earlier than the previous Labour Government had intended).
Many women born in the 1950s argue that they have been hit particularly hard, with significant changes to their SPA imposed with a lack of appropriate notification. Women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1953 will have a pension age of between 60 and 63 by March 2016 (women born between 6 April 1951 and 5 April 1953 thus do not qualify for the new single-tier state pension whilst a man born on the same day does).
As a result, Women effected in North West Kent and across the UK have organised themselves and have organised a campaign called the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) that is calling for “fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women”. You can find their Facebook page by searching ‘nwkwaspi’.WASPI represents a group of women born in the early 1950s who expected to draw their state pension aged 60 but are now concerned that they will have to wait until they are 65 or 66.
Campaigners are calling on the Government to provide transitional arrangements and to enable women in this group the right to choose to receive their state pension under the new single-tier pension should they wish to do so. Those who are affected should be given adequate notice of the changes and have enough time to plan for their futures. Inaction is no longer an option, the Government must look again at the issue and put forward proposals to help those most in need as a matter of urgency.
We need to ask what message this is sending to young people, particularly young women. Currently, they will be seeing this government’s attempt to short-change their mothers and grandmothers. What we need to avoid is this will act as a deterrent to young women investing into a pension scheme and planning for their futures.
It is now time for the Government to correct this injustice, to do the right thing and put in place transitional measures.