Rising life expectancy due to improvements in healthcare, living and working conditions are to be celebrated. But one consequence of living longer lives has been changes to the state pension age.
Until 2010 men over the age of 65 and women over the age of 60 were eligible for the state pension. A process has been established, with cross party support, to equalise the ages.
The Tory / Lib Dem coalition government accelerated the increase in the state pension age, bringing the timescale forward by four years and I have very strong concerns about the effect this will have on some women.
The Government’s changes mean that the state pension age for women will increase from 60 to 65 by November 2018, and 66 by October 2020. These changes have been communicated poorly. The proposals will have a disproportionate effect on women born in the 1950s some of whom stand to lose many thousands of pounds.
Many residents have been in touch with me and my predecessor Tessa Jowell to tell us about the impacts that these changes will have. Women who have worked hard, raised children and are now caring for elderly parents, who are deeply worried about the financial impact of these plans.
During the last Parliament, Labour MPs pressured the Government to ensure that women who happen to be born in a particular year were not affected disproportionately, but the Government’s concessions did not go far enough, and since then the Government has made the situation far worse by failing to write individually to those women affected to give them the time to prepare.
I will continue to champion the interests of women in my constituency who need and deserve a fair pension settlement from the government and hope that the Tory government will think again.