Knowing that the Government’s Pensions Bill was about to come before Parliament, I used my recent opportunity to ask the Prime Minister a question to urge him to drop plans to speed up changes to the state pension age. He should stick to the promise the Conservatives and LibDems made in their coalition agreement last May, NOT to make any changes to the pension age before 2020 to give people the time they need to adjust their plans.
Yes of course we need change, and I fully support the principle of equalising the State Pension Age for men and women. Furthermore, with increased life expectancy, the State Pension Age needs to rise in order to pay for a more generous basic state pension. These principles underpinned Labour’s Pension Act 2007, which continued the 1995 timetable for equalising women’s state pension age with men’s by increasing it to 65 by 2020, and then legislated to increase the pension age for both men and women to 66 by 2027, 67 by 2036 and 68 by 2046. This timescale was to give people 18 years to plan, as the Turner report on pensions had recommended a minimum of 15 years’ notice for any changes.
But the Government’s Bill would bring this forward significantly, meaning that 2.6 million women and 2.3 million men will have to wait longer for their state pension, and leaving many with little time to plan.
Although the Government has not agreed to drop its plans, the next step will be to try to get some changes during the committee stages of the Bill, particularly to help those worst affected, with least time to plan, namely some 300,000 women who had been expecting to retire in 2017 or 2018.