Earlier this month, the government announced that the decision to increase women’s state pension age would not be reconsidered and that 65 would remain as women’s new retirement age moving forward. Guy Opperman, the UK pensions minister, spoke firmly in the House of Commons and described how revoking the decision to delay female retirement would not only flout equality law but would result in taxpayers losing over £70bn. He also stated that if these changes were reassessed, it would be the younger generation who would ultimately pay the price. The announcement came as a blow to women across the country, many of whom could suffer financially as the result of these law changes.
Moves to increase women’s state pension age were originally made under the 1995 Pensions Act, which stated that an increase from 60 to 65 would gradually occur between April 2010 and April 2020. However, upon the formation of the coalition government in 2011, the Pensions Act (2011) was brought in to quicken this process, meaning from November this year, women will have to be 65 or over in order to receive their state pension. The female state pension age will then increase again to 66 by 2020 to equal men’s.
For several groups of older women, especially those in support of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, the decision to increase the female retirement age is both harsh and unfair. These feelings were demonstrated a statement made by a WASPI spokeswoman, who said: “We’re hugely disappointed by the Government’s latest statement on the State Pension age rises. It is clear that Guy Opperman hasn’t understood that many 1950s women now find themselves in. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with him and clarify his many misconceptions about our campaign.”
As well as those supporting WASPI, Carolyn Harris, the shadow women and equalities minister, also shared her disappointment in the decision. She said: “Having heard [Mr Opperman’s] statement, I can only assume that the minister really doesn’t get this, because the consequences and the strength of feeling – not just amongst the 1950s women, but amongst colleagues – is extremely angry.”
As outlined above, this change in female pension law is particularly problematic for women born in the 1950s, whose pension age has hastily increased by six years over just 10 years, a relatively short period in comparison to previous increases. Consequently, many women born in the 50s will now have to rethink their finances and may be left short as the result of not planning for an additional six years of employment.
While calls have been made for the government to compensate women who could ultimately experience serious financial setbacks as the consequence of these changes, Mr Opperman described how remuneration was not possible as this would cost the taxpayer even more money, somewhere in the region of “over £30bn”.
Are you a woman who was born in the 1950s and could thus be affected by the increase in women’s state pension age? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue – get in touch on our social media channels to have your say on the matter. Additionally, to find out more about pensions or receive elderly money advice, visit our dedicated money page.