View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/money/article/a871354
State pension age petition hits 100,000
Petition criticising increases in the state pension age for women born in 1950s gathers enough signatures for a parliamentary debate.
A campaign criticising ‘unfair’ increases in the state pension age for women born in the 1950s has reached the 100,000 petition signatures needed for the matter to be debated in parliament.
The 1995 Pensions Act first set out incremental women’s state pension age (SPA) rises from 60 to 65 to equalise it with men’s.
The 2011 Pensions Act then accelerated the timetable so women’s SPA would hit 65 by 2018 and both men and women would have a retirement age of 66 by 2020, meaning some women would have to wait an extra 18 months to receive their state pension.
Women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1953 still have a SPA set by the 1995 Pensions Act of between 60 and 63 because they reach SPA before the introduction of the new state pension.
An online petition protesting against these changes was started by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign.
It is calling for all women born on or after 6 April 1951 affected by the changes to the state pension age to be ‘put in exactly the same financial position they would have been’ in if they had been born on or before 5 April 1950.
A backbench debate led by Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black had already been scheduled for 7 January, but passing the 100,000 signature mark means Waspi’s petition must be considered for a full parliamentary debate.
The Downing Street Petitions Committee can decide not to debate an issue that gains 100,000 signatures, but this is rare, with only two currently listed on the government’s online petition website as being refused a debate.
Petitions to have recently hit the 100,000 mark and subsequently be debated include calls against airstrikes in Syria and the protection of bees from certain pesticides.
Waspi co-founder Anne Keen described reaching the landmark as an ‘emotional’ moment in the campaign.
In its response to the SPA petition, the Department for Work and Pensions said it would not be revisiting the arrangements, and that all women affected have been directly contacted following the changes.
‘The policy decision to increase women’s SPA is designed to remove the inequality between men and women,’ the DWP said. ‘The cost of prolonging this inequality would be several billions of pounds. Parliament extensively debated the issue and listened to all arguments both for and against the acceleration of the timetable to remove this inequality. The decision was approved by Parliament in 2011 and there is no new evidence to consider.’
The 2014 Pensions Act does provide for a six-yearly review of the SPA to take into account up-to-date life expectancy data and the findings of an independently-led review. The first such review will conclude by May 2017.
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