Eilidh Whiteford



Monday, 14 February 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has challenged Minister of State for Pensions Steve Webb over an anomaly in the UK Government’s proposals to increase the state pension age for women.

The SNP MP was speaking earlier today during Department for Work & Pensions Questions in the House of Commons following contact from a number of constituents who find themselves disadvantaged as a result of the planned changes.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“There are a significant number of women already past their mid-50s who have no time to make up for the lost pension income they will have been expecting as a result of the UK Government’s proposals to increase the state pension age for women to 66 by 2020. This will have unfair and disproportionate consequences for those affected.

“Many women have made financial and other plans on the basis that they were previously told that their retirement age of 60 would increase to 63 or 64. Now they are being told it will rise faster and to age 66.

“In the worst cases, some women will now find they have to wait two more years for their state pension which means they simply do not have time to make arrangements to offset the financial shortfall they will receive.

“The Minister’s response today was inadequate and demonstrated a lack of compassion for those who have worked hard, paid their stamp and are looking forward to retirement. I will continue to press the case for my constituents who are affected.”

Extract from Hansard follows:

Steve Webb (Minister of State for Pensions): Of the 2.6 million women who are affected, 33,000 were born [in 1954]. That group will have to delay for up to two years before they receive their state pension. One reassurance I can offer is that those women will be eligible to apply for jobseeker’s allowance or employment and support allowance, so they will not be left destitute.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): The Turner Commission recommended a 15-year lead-in for such changes. Those women who were born in 1954 will not benefit from that. Does the Minister think that fair?

Steve Webb (Minister of State for Pensions): The hon. Lady raises the important point that notice periods are important. The challenge we faced was that the time scale for raising state pension ages that we inherited was staggeringly leisurely. The Conservative party manifesto and the coalition agreement made it clear that we would move faster. The state pension age for men was set at 65 a century ago—I think we need to move faster.

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