The equalisation of the state pension age has had a devastating impact on many women who were born in the 1950s. I have repeatedly called on the Government to deliver on its promise to look at transitional arrangements, but they have failed to engage. It is simply not good enough for the Tories to continue to try and close down this issue of injustice and the growing pressure makes it impossible. The recent WASPI campaign received considerable support across the constituency and was further backed by hundreds of thousands nationwide. I was proud to be one of 88 MPs who presented a petition from local WASPI women in October.
I fully support Labour’s recent policy announcement which would alleviate the worst of the impacts for the most vulnerable women. The policy announcement proposes to return eligibility for Pensions Credit to the state pension age timetable of the 1995 Pensions Act, but with the qualifying age continuing to increase to 66 by 2022. The cost of this policy would be funded by reversing the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business which have been promised by the former Chancellor. The Labour Party is calling on the Government to implement these plans in the Autumn Statement, to give vulnerable women in Scunthorpe and across the country some stability until their delayed state pension is available.
The lack of notice given to 1950s women regarding changes in the state pension age by the Government has left many facing real hardship. By extending Pension Credit to those who would have expected to retire under the previous timetable we would help the most vulnerable WASPI women now. We are also developing solutions for those affected who would not be entitled to means-tested Pension Credit under these proposals.
It is vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.