The Government have decided to amend controversial plans in the Pensions Bill to increase the state pension age.
Introducing an 18 month cap on the maximum delay, the change will mean 245,000 women will have to wait less than expected under the Bill. Rachel, who as shadow pensions minister joined thousands of women in condemning the plans and ran a high profile campaign against them said:
“I’ve been lobbying for a year to get the government to think again to help the 500,000 women who will have to wait more than an extra year to get their state pension. This is only a partial concession, but the government has at least listened to the women who have lobbied parliament, to the women who have signed the petition and to the thousands of women who have written to their MPs and the government.
After a year of uncertainty we now have the government’s concessions. While I welcome the fact that 245,000 women are going to have to wait less than they had feared, I still have very real concerns: the government should go further.
As many as 1,000 women in Leeds West will still have to wait more than a year to receive their state pension – and while this is good news for those who had to wait for more than 18 months, the extra delay is still a major concern.
It is still the case that 500,000 women are going to have to wait more than an extra year to get their state pension, and 300,000 women who are going to have to wait exactly 18months are still set to lose up to £11,000 because of the government’s changes to women’s retirement dates.”
Yesterday, Rachel spent the day in Stalybridge and Hyde, the Constituency of Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, in her role as Shadow Pensions Minister. Rachel address the AGM of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, the largest public sector pension fund in the UK, met with local Council Leader Kerian Quinn and took part in a round table discussion with local residents concerned about the future of pensions.
Rachel said "it is very important for politicians to get around the country and hear the views of ordinary people affected by the decisions of Governments. The residents of Stalybridge & Hyde have told me about their concerns about the Government's current proposals, in particular how women in their mid-50s will be unfairly hit by the acceleration of the retirement age increase, and I'll take what I've heard back to Parliament. I'd like to thank Jonathan Reynolds MP for inviting me, and for all the people I spoke to for giving up their valuable time."
The Yorkshire Evening Post have covered the Bramley Baths Public Meeting, hosted by Rachel on Thursday 16th June 2011.
AN emotional and heated meeting about the future of Bramley’s historic swimming baths ended with locals voting to put together a plan for community ownership.
There was anger and frustration that the situation had been forced on the community by the Government’s cuts programme.
Leeds faces a £90 million budget cut – and the century-old Grade II listed building could be one of the casualties.
The meeting was told the baths are costing the council almost £250,000 per year to run, but do not make a profit.
Campaigners recently won £38,000 in funding to help the baths run on reduced hours until March next year, but its long-term future is still in doubt...
Today is the second reading of the government’s Pensions Bill and the first chance for MPs to vote on the controversial plans surrounding the state pension age. The issue has appeared widely in the media this morning ahead of the crucial debate.
Rachel, as Shadow Pensions Minister, has written for Left Foot Forward to explain how Moving the goalposts on pensions is unfair and unjust.
You can also read The Daily Mail’s article, Don't punish women': Ministers demand rethink on pensions that will cost 500,000 up to £15,000 each, by clicking here.
In the Yorkshire Post today there is an opinion piece written by Rachel entitled, MPs must protect these women who face an unjust wait for their pension. Click ‘Read More’ below to read the full text of this article.
MPs must protect these women who face an unjust wait for their pension.
Today MPs will vote on the Government’s plans to accelerate the increase in the state pension age. MPs from all parties have the chance to stand up for constituents who are affected by proposals that unfairly target women in their mid and late fifties.
The Government’s plans mean 4.9 million people having to wait longer before the can draw their state pension. Amongst them, 500,000 women will have to wait more than an extra year, while 33,000 will have to wait exactly two years. No men will have to wait for more than a year. In Yorkshire, 43,000 women will be hit by more than a year with 3,000 women in the region waiting two years longer.
Along with Labour leader Ed Miliband, I will be leading the charge in Parliament against these unfair and unjust plans. They are unfair because they target a group of women who have, on average, just one sixth of the savings built up by men of the same age. 40% of them have no savings at all. Many of the women will have taken time off to bring up families. They have received lower pay throughout their career: in 1980, when these women were in their mid 20s, the pay gap was 30%. Many of these women worked part time and would have been prevented from saving for a pension because companies did not have to provide occupational pensions for part time workers until the mid 1990s.
An Age UK survey released last week revealed that many of the women affected don’t even know about the potential changes. One fifth weren’t aware of changes made in 1995 to increase their pension age beyond 60. So to give just five years notice of further changes is of great concern.
I am under no illusions about the demand on the system from increasing life expectancy. But there is an alternative. I have backed a plan that would equalise the state pension age for men and women by 2020 and then increase the pension age for both men and women from 65 to 66 between 2020 and 2022. This would achieve the aim of reaching a state pension age of 66 more quickly, but would affect 1.2 million fewer people than under the Government’s plans. It would affect an equal number of men and women, no one would have to wait for more than a year longer for their pension, and women in their mid fifties would not be singled out for harsh medicine.
People approaching retirement need time to plan for change. The Government’s proposals do not allow for that, even though Pensions Minister Steve Webb said last year that “whatever changes we make, we need to do make them in a way that is fair. Fair across the generations. Fair between men and women.” Indeed, the Coalition Agreement promised that the state pension age would not “start to rise to 66 for women before 2020”. The proposals MPs will be voting on today breach that promise, and start the rise to 66 for men and women in 2018.
The women affected don’t want handouts from the state. They have paid into the pensions system, brought up children and many are now caring for elderly parents or young grandchildren. What they want is their pension protected, certainty and time to plan.
One woman, who has worked since she was fifteen and is facing the prospect of an extra two years before she can retire told me: “I have osteoarthritis in my thumbs and wrists, which makes the lifting and cleaning work in my job harder. The basic state pension will be my only retirement income, and I have no extra means of coping financially. I will have no option but to try and carry on working.” These changes are unfair and disproportionate, and hundreds of thousands of women do not deserve to have the goalposts moved again.
Today’s vote will be a chance for MPs to show that they have listened to their constituents and that they are willing to act to protect them, and for coalition MPs it is a chance to stick by their coalition agreement and vote down these unfair proposals.
Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Minister for Pensions
Rachel Reeves has increased the pressure on the Tory-led Government to put a stop to its unfair plans to accelerate the increase in the State Pension Age.
Under plans contained in the Pensions Bill, which will be debated soon in the House of Commons, the speed at which the State Pension Age is equalised will increase. 500,000 women will have to wait more than an extra year to receive their state pension, 33,000 of them will have to wait for exactly two extra years.
In a debate in the House of Commons yesterday Rachel said the State Pension Age changes were unfair.
After the debate, Rachel said:
"These plans are profoundly and arbitrarily unfair on a group of women who have had to face uncertainty over their retirement age too many times. The speed of their plans is a clear breach of the Coalition Agreement which promised that the State Pension Age would not start to rise to 66 before 2018 for women. There is growing unease on Government benches about this plan, and I will continue to fight for a fairer deal for thousands of women up and down the country."
The campaign has included a lobby of Parliament by women who will be affected and a 10,000 strong petition, handed to 10 Downing Street by Rachel and a group of women angry at the plans last month.
Read more about the issue at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/08/government-cuts-women