The Work and Pensions Secretary today revealed that it is very unlikely that women due to be hit by the increasing state pension age will receive any kind of concessions to soften the blow.
The different state pension ages for men and women have been, and continue to be, equalised, with the women’s age increasing to meet men’s.
Currently, the retirement age for men is at 65, while the age for women has been increasing from 60 to reach the same point, with both then going up to 66.
The problem, for many women, is that the speed at which the different ages are equalising has increased, meaning that some are left having to wait many years more than they initially planned to before they can claim, leaving them up to £12,000 worse off.
The plan to equalise the pension ages was first conceived in 1995 by the then Conservative government, and then in 2007, the Labour government formally revealed plans to bring the women’s age up to 65 by 2024, and then both up to 66 by 2026.
However, in 2011, George Osborne announced that he would be speeding up the whole process.
Under the current timetable, the state pension age for women will reach 65 in November 2018, meaning that women born after November 1953 will have to wait until 2018 to claim a state pension, while a woman born in November 1952 can claim it in May 2015.
Both male and female state pension ages will be increased to 66 by October 2020. This means that a woman born in the latter half of 1954 won’t be able to claim her state pension until 2020 – five years later than a woman born two years earlier.
Many argued that they were not given sufficient time to prepare for the change, leaving hundreds of thousands financially far worse off than they would otherwise be.
Many criticised the policy, and a petition calling for debate gained enough signatures for the issue to be brought to parliament.
However, the debate did not reach the conclusion desired by campaigners.
The Department for Work and Pensions issued a statement saying: “The Government will not be revisiting the state pension age arrangements for women affected by the 1995 or 2011 Acts.
“The Government carried out extensive analysis of the impacts of bringing forward the rise to 66 when legislating for the change. The decision to amend the timetable originally set out in the bill, to cap the maximum increase at 18 months rather than two years, was informed by this analysis.”
The current Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, has now also come out and effectively ruled out any compromise.
“I don’t see there is a do-able solution” he said.
Discussing a proposed solution that would see women being able to claim their pensions early at a reduced rate, Crabb said:
“When I’ve discussed that, some of the women have said that’s not actually what they want.
“It is just fiscally impossible. And I think it’s irresponsible for anyone in this House of Commons to try to pretend, or lead these women into thinking there’s an easy decision to be made.”
Women Against State Pension Inequality, a campaign group, are unsurprisingly disappointed with the outcome of parliamentary discussion, though they maintain hope, as co-founder Marion Smulders explained.
Smulders said: “I’m disappointed, but still hopeful.
“There is a cross-party parliamentary group on this. I trust they will have further contact with Stephen Crabb, and hope he will re-visit this.”