House of Commons votes against changing pension rules despite groups claiming millions of women will be disadvantaged by the equalisation of the pension age
The ongoing campaign to help millions of women affected by new rules governing the state pension age (SPA) has hit a major setback with 289 MPs voting against changing them.
The vote in a House of Commons Opposition Day Debate on 24 February follows a petition signed by 156,000 people and months of campaigning by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), who argue that the new state pension rules disadvantage many women who may have to defer retiring for up to six years.
The state pension age was originally set at 60 for women but the Pensions Act 1995 included an increase for women to 65, due to be phased in between 2010-2020. In 2011, the government bought forward the changes, so that the women’s SPA will now equalise with men’s state pension age (65) by November 2018. The SPA for both genders will increase to 66 by autumn 2020.
Some women affected by both increases say they could leave them as much as £30,000 out of pocket due to waiting longer (up to six years) for their state pension, arguing these changes weren’t properly relayed to them. “Pensions are a right not a benefit, it’s an issue of respect” said SNP MP Mhairi Black during the debate, which saw the Labour-led motion defeated by 289 votes to 265, a majority of 24.
A previous debate at London’s Westminster Hall saw work and pensions minister Shailesh Vara suggest women losing out in the changes “could turn to jobseeker’s allowance”. Next month (6 April) the flat-rate state pension increases to £155.65 a week.
Scottish Widows retirement expert, Lynn Graves said: “Women affected by the changes may be looking to understand whether their own savings will help them retire earlier than the state pension age. The biggest challenge for many is knowing how much they’ll need to have saved.
Scottish Widows’ Women and Retirement Report 2015 revealed that 71 per cent of women don’t know what size pension pot they’ll need to secure the income they’re hoping for. Our Retirement Planning website is a good place to start if you’re asking whether you can afford to retire.”