(But no one’s shouting Bingo…)
Today, hundreds of women aged 51 to 58 from all over the country will be descending on Westminster to protest against the Government’s plans to increase the State Pension Age for women to 66 by 2020.
Why are they protesting? Well, they’re not against the State Pension Age going up per se – most are in favour of the equalisation of men’s and women’s State Pension Ages – and many recognise that they’re living and working for longer, so it makes sense for them to receive their state pension at a later date.
Instead, these women are arguing that the sudden rise in the State Pension Age shouldn’t begin before 2020 – six years earlier than planned under current legislation – because this amounts to a broken promise from the Coalition Government (yes, another one) and it doesn’t give them nearly enough time to plan for retirement. The Turner Commission on Pension Reform recommended 15 years notice of changes to the State Pension Age, but they’re getting just nine.
Over the next nine years, women’s State Pension Age will increase by six years, from 60 to 66. Over the same period of time, men’s State Pension Age will increase by just one year, from 65 to 66. The move may be towards equality, but is it fair?
The sudden rise will affect 2.6 million women across the country, but 330,000 women will be hit hardest, having to wait between 18 months and two years longer for their state pension. The 33,000 women who will have to wait an extra two years will lose on average £10,000 of state pension income as a result. This is a significant amount of money in anyone’s estimation, particularly someone who’s lived for years on a low income.
Waiting an extra two years is going to hit certain women the hardest: carers; those in poor health; those on shorter working hours and those facing redundancy; as they’ll have to bridge the gap they face with benefits and whatever they’ve saved for retirement.
What’s worse is that many of those affected will be women on a lower income, who’ve worked since they were 15 or 16 years old, who are reliant on state benefits in retirement and have lower life expectancies. They’ll have to work harder, for longer, and face poverty and uncertainty as they enter retirement.
So, what can you do to give these women the retirement they deserve? You can go along to the lobby if there’s still time, or you can email your MP directly. You can also spread the word to the women you know who are affected (born between 6 April 1953 and 5 April 1960). Finally, you can let me know what you think of the proposed changes and if they affect you in any way.