Last week, I attended a Parliamentary debate where MPs spoke on behalf of thousands of women who have had their retirement plans devastated by changes in the Government’s pensions policy.
Under the 1995 Pensions Act, it was agreed that the State Pension Age for women would be gradually raised to 65 to be on equal footing with men by 2020. This changed in 2011 when the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition Government accelerated the rate of the increase.
The move was meant to reduce the welfare bill and take into account the rise in life expectancy. On paper, it seems like a harmless and relatively straightforward way to save money. But the reality has been very different.
The change was communicated poorly and working women born in the 1950s, many of whom had planned their retirement for years, were given just two years’ notice.
It is right that men and women should retire at the same age, but it is also fair and proper that those affected by the changes should be given enough time to adjust their plans.
Several women in Rochdale who have been affected by these changes have been in touch to let me know how damaging this late shifting of the goalposts will be.
Budgets have been ruined, long-held retirement dreams abandoned and caring commitments compromised.
It is a brutal final twist for women who have spent their entire working lives being underpaid, undervalued and underrepresented at the top level.
This is grossly unfair and I have given my full backing to the excellent campaign organised by Women Against State Pension Inequality.
The Government must accept they have bungled this change and restore the State Pension to the hard working women who have been denied a well deserved retirement.