The recently installed pensions minister Guy Opperman pulled out of a pensions fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday as a large Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) protest went ahead.
Opperman was due to speak at a fringe event entitled ‘From Scrimping to Splashing out: Will the pension flexibilities change retirement for women?’
However as a Waspi demonstration gathered outside, making large amounts of noise that could be heard around the Conference grounds, Opperman decided not to attend, to the displeasure of many in the audience.
The event itself was marked by a number of Waspi supporters voicing grievances, according to those who were there.
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, was speaking at the event and criticised Opperman for not appearing.
‘I was disappointed the pensions minister was not there,’ she said. ‘It was disappointing he wasn’t able to listen to the issues women face on a daily basis particular when you consider part of his role is financial inclusion,’ she said.
New Model Adviser® contacted Opperman to ask him why he decided against attending and is yet to receive a response at the time of writing.
Earlier in the day New Model Adviser® spotted the previous pensions minister Richard Harrington managing to sneak past the Waspi demonstration, going unnoticed by the protestors.
In Opperman’s place at the fringe event was MP Anne Hilton who is the minister of state for skills and apprenticeships.
In July Opperman was criticised for suggesting the Waspi women could seek apprenticeships.
Waspi began its campaign in 2015 to demand ‘transitional arrangements’ for women born in the 1950s affected by the SPA acceleration.
Waspi's complaint is not just that women's SPA is rising too fast, but that the DWP failed to communicate the changes, in 1995 and in 2011.
Last year Harrington ruled out the possibility of introducing legislation to support women hit by the SPA increases.
All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs was created to support the cause, following a succession of debates in the House of Commons on the matter.