Eastbourne MP backs pension campaigners

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell's maiden speech in the House of Commons SUS-150306-111725001
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell's maiden speech in the House of Commons SUS-150306-111725001

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has given her support to equality campaigners after accelerated changes to the state pension age for women.

The campaigners - Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) - say millions of women had very little notice that they would not get a pension at 60 while thousands could lose up to £12,000 as a result.

Mrs Ansell has backed campaigners’ calls to protect those women with new transitional arrangements.

“I absolutely understand the argument about fairness and equality which now underlines moves to bring women’s retirement age in line with men’s, but retrospectively applying this principle to women born in the 1950s who will have lived and made choices in decades hallmarked by inequality of pay and of opportunity is clearly not right,” said Mrs Ansell.

“These women have not had the time to prepare for these changes and many will not have a private pension or have worked the years required for a full occupational pension as they were caring for children and supporting husbands or partners in their careers. This means they are relying on the state pension.

“There are also credible doubts around how effectively the Department of Work and Pensions communicated these significant changes to state pension to the women who would be affected.

“I support WASPI in its endeavours to seek transitional arrangement so these women are not unfairly treated.”

While the rise in pension age for women was first agreed in 1995, it was initially thought there would be no rise until at least 2024.

But in 2011 George Osbourne brought forward the planned changes, significantly reducing the time women had to prepare for the rise.

This means the age at which women qualify for the state pension is due to rise to 65 in October 2018 and then to 66 by October 2020.

The new timescale means around 2.6 million women will have had only five years’ notice of their new circumstances.

Around 416,000 of these women will live off an income of less than £8,000 a year until they get their pension, according to a report commissioned by the former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves.

Of these, 80,000 women will lose up to £8,000, with 48,000 missing out on as much as £12,000.

Since the announcement more than 140,000 people have signed a petition calling for new transitional arrangements for all women born on or after April 6 1951 until April 6 1960.

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