Women denied right to a better pension under flat-rate plans take fight to parliament

By Jeff Prestridge, Financial Mail On Sunday

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Women who have been denied the right to the improved pension under plans to overhaul and simplify the State system from April 2017 are planning to take their fight for justice to the heart of Government.

Support is growing for a campaign group set up to get the Government to give a fairer pension deal for 80,000 women who could lose out as a result of the proposed introduction of the new single-tier State pension.

Last week, following Financial Mail’s reports on the pensions injustice suffered by women born between April 6 and July 5, 1953, the campaign  attracted more than 600 new supporters.

Day of action: The group, founded by Louise Fox, second from left, and including Kathryn Conway, fourth from left

Day of action: The group, founded by Louise Fox, second from left, and including Kathryn Conway, fourth from left

Ten women who are part of the campaign group protested at the Houses of Parliament. Wearing badges proclaiming, ‘I’m one of the 80,000’, they attended a sitting of the Work and Pensions Select Committee where details of the draft Pensions Bill, paving the way for the introduction of the single-tier State pension, were discussed.

‘Our very presence made MPs aware of our pensions plight,’ said campaign group founder Louise Fox, a clinical governance manager for a healthcare company, who lives in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

 

The issue was raised by Glenda Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, and supported by Ros Altmann, an independent pensions expert. Altmann, there to provide evidence, said it was vital that ‘transitional arrangements’ were put in place by the Government to ensure the 80,000 affected women were not unfairly discriminated against through no fault of their own.

Supporter: MP Glenda Jackson

Supporter: MP Glenda Jackson

The  women lose out as a result of slippage by one year in the scheduled introduction of the new State pension of £144 a week, from April 2016 to April 2017 – and also because of the Government’s decision to quicken the pace at which the State pension age is equalised for men and women.

By 2018, men and women will be eligible for a State pension from age 65.

The impact of these two events means that any man born after  April 5, 1952 will be eligible for a State pension under the new system, which most experts say is fairer and simpler for future pensioners, with women and the self-employed being major beneficiaries.

But only women born after July 5, 1953 are included. The new £144-a-week pension will replace the current basic State pension – worth a maximum £107.45 a week – which is topped up by the Second State Pension or by means-tested pension credit.

About 400,000 women who were born between April 1952 and July 1953 will not get the new State pension while men born between these two dates will – an anomaly Jackson believes should be considered by the Government before it turns the draft Bill into legislation to put before Parliament. Jackson says she raised this anomaly to ‘give the Government the heads-up on any bear traps’ in the draft Pensions Bill.

Of the 400,000, there is a group of 80,000 born between April 6 and July 5, 1953 who suffer particularly. They were led to believe that they would be eligible for the new single-tier pension in return for having their pension age increased twice.

But because the introduction of the new State pension has been delayed to at least April 2017, they will have reached their State pension age by that date, excluding them from the improved pension.

Altmann says: ‘This seems very unfair. It would surely be fairer to make some transitional arrangements so that when these women reach the pension age for men born at the same time, they will be moved on to the new system.’

Her views are shared by the women who attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Kathryn Conway, from Orpington, Kent, was born on June 26, 1953.  A low earner throughout her working life as a temporary secretary, she says it is galling that the new State pension, designed especially to help women like herself, has been taken out of her grasp.

Last Sunday, after reading Financial Mail, Kathryn emailed Joseph Johnson, her Conservative MP, to express her anger over her rough treatment. She has yet to receive a reply. ‘I hope the Government sees we have fallen through the pension cracks,’ she says.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb is due to go before the Work and Pensions Committee later this month.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Gasman.... 'I expected to retire this year aged 60'. The decision to gradually raise the women's pension age from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 was MADE BY THE THATCHER GOVERNMENT IN THE EARLY 1990'S. It has been the policy of successive Governments ever since. Those affected have had nearly 20 years notice of the change. You claim not to have known this. Maybe you should make more effort to keep up with the news and financial matters in general.

Click to rate     Rating   2

Once again, this comments forum is filling up with complaints from people with their own axe to grind about their personal situation. May I suggest that they focus their energies on forming campaign groups of their own, instead of venting their spleen on a group of women - the 80,000 - who have had the enterprise and initiative to do just that?

Click to rate     Rating   1

It is 430,000 women that were born between 6.4.1952 and 16.6.1953 who have ALL in this 15 month age cohort as per Hansard 14.1.2013 Pensions Bill 2013 that are being discriminated against vis a vis men of the exact same date of birth and ALL the 430,000 women in this cohort are subject to equalisation : which is right It has to work both ways as it does now: in that men in this age group will also get the addtional benefits at the same SPA as women. These 430 000 women are subject to period of equalisation of up to three years extra wait by 2010 act and the 80k in article some by another 2 mths to one yr + by 2011.Glenda Jackson MP referred to the 430,00 women as did C Berry TUC, Prof Ginn:Women Budget Group BWC and a number of MPS have highlighted this injustice. 430 000 women need to be treated equally as men in the exact same birth date group as they are so by and standard of justice they would ALL both men and women get the same ST SP rate.'Political will is required GJ MP said

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Worn Out, Skid Row, United Kingdom, 3/3/2013 0:24 - Why are they any more special than all the people who will lose out on the new higher rate pension? I would have huge respect if they were campaigning for ALL pensioners existing and future to be awarded the higher rate from 2017. Why is there no campaign for this???>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I AM ONE of these women. After 40+ years of full-time work, paying full stamp, I had expected to retire this year, at age 60. My retirement age has been changed twice in recent years. Now, I am due to retire in March 2017, but will not benefit from the new higher rate pension, because I am 12 days too old.

Click to rate     Rating   8

Worn Out, Skid Row, United Kingdom, 3/3/2013 0:24 - Why are they any more special than all the people who will lose out on the new higher rate pension? I would have huge respect if they were campaigning for ALL pensioners existing and future to be awarded the higher rate from 2017. Why is there no campaign for this???>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I AM ONE of these women. After 40+ years of full-time work, paying full stamp, I had expected to retire this year, at age 60. My retirement age has been changed twice in recent years. Now, I am due to retire in March 2017, but will not benefit from the new higher rate pension, because I am 12 days too old.

Click to rate     Rating   5

These women do not have a case. If they win then the next age group complain and so on. This is what happens when you have a cutoff date,it can be tough for some but that is the nature of the beast.

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but most of the women who have contacted me have paid full NI all their working life. - LF , Amersham, United Kingdom, 03/3/2013 09:33---- well they will get serps/ssp then and get a higher pension than the new flat rate!!

Click to rate     Rating   11

I was due to get the new pension but because of the date change will miss out. As a man rather than a woman who will fight for me!!!! A two tier system is daft, there will be next to no savings on admin for years, we will have the worse case scenerio. It would be so much simpler for everyone to qualify for new rate. It would be costly but how much has this awful government wasted on the bankers, and savings in public costs would be considerable from the start.

Click to rate     Rating   14

It is great to see so many comments, and some very supportive ones, though some less so. Lobby Ludd and RB79 think they will get their pensions several years later than me - I will be entitled to my pension 1 year and 4 months earlier than a man born on the same day as me, but they may also be interested to know that in 2009, when women could retire at 60, the average age they actually retired was 62.4 (Para 2.21 of the ¿ When the State Pension age will increase to 66¿ Equality impact assessment January 2011). Many women work on not claiming the pension they are entitled to because they can¿t afford to retire. JoeyR thinks that those complaining are the same women who opted to pay the reduced married women's NI. I can¿t speak for all 80,000 but most of the women who have contacted me have paid full NI all their working life.

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Existing pensioners (men and women) will not benefit even though they may have paid more in NI than those who will qualify. Another cliff edge where those born one side will be worse off than those born the other side - this is pure age discrimination. My vote at the next General Election will be based on this issue alone.

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