I agree that the decision to accelerate the rise in the women’s state pension age has had a devastating impact on many women who were born in the 1950s, some of whom are now facing hardship and destitution as a result. I believe that the 2.5 million women affected did not have fair notification of the changes and they deserve recognition for this injustice and transitional protections.
Unfortunately, the Government has said that it will not revisit the state pension age arrangements for women born in the 1950s. However, I am aware that a High Court judge recently granted a judicial review to determine whether increases to the women’s state pension age have been lawful. The case is expected to be heard in May 2019 and I can assure you that I will follow updates on this very closely.
We need to ensure that women affected by the state pension equalisation have security in older age, which is why at the general election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to extend Pension Credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women. This would alleviate the worst of the impacts and restore some of the dignity that many feel has been taken away.
Furthermore, the Opposition has put forward proposals to allow women to retire up to two years early, at the age of 64. Given that the Government has so far refused to set aside any additional expenditure, it was felt it was important to present proposals that were cost neutral, so that there was no excuse to rule it out. This option would be available to all those waiting to retire and would result in women seeing a small reduction in their weekly state pension entitlement.
Both these options should be taken as a starting point and complement additional transitional protections. I am aware that women need action on this now and it is unacceptable that the Government is ignoring tangible measures that could help. I spoke in a debate on the state pension age for women on the 31 January 2019 and you can read what I said, and about the debate, by going to https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-31/debates/7AE0C9D9-157D-46F9-8A68-09766D29FCA1/StatePensionAgeWomen#contribution-2969280D-5ADD-4ABF-B52A-789DC140D22B
I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government to put in place the necessary transitional protections to end this injustice.