Labour Party policy on the state pension for women born in the 1950s
I am writing to you following my recent Labour Party conference speech where I called on the Government to implement an earlier retirement age for women born in the 1950s.We believe that these women need action now from this Government, and have presented two Options that they could take forward.
The first, included in our manifesto, was the extension of pension credit to those most badly affected by the accelerated increase in state pension age (SPA) enabling them to get additional support based on the 1995 SPA timetable. This would provide approximately half a million women on the lowest incomes, up to £159per week. We have repeatedly called on the Government to implement this costed measure, but sadly they have so far refused to act. We have also urged the Scottish Government to use their powers under the Scotland Act to provide this support, but they have also failed to act.
Our manifesto committed to look at other options for support for 1950s born women. As such, I set out at conference an additional option which would give women the opportunity to retire up to two years earlier at 64 years, rather than as expected under this Government’s plans. Given that the Government has so far refused to set aside any additional expenditure, we felt it was important to present proposals that there were cost neutral, so that there was no excuse to rule it out. Under this option, women born in the 1950s would see a small reduction of 6% in their weekly state pension entitlement for each year they retired early; based on the state pension today a woman retiring a year early today would receive £149.98 a week instead of £159.55. This option would be available to all those waiting to retire, around 2.6 million women.
However, as I said then and subsequently, this is ‘a starter’. It doesn’t preclude further action or even compensation. We want to continue working with women to right the wrong that they have been dealt.
This option was developed after listening to women as part of our state pension tour, where the Shadow Pensions Minister, Alex Cunningham, and I have been travelling around the country talking to men and women about the future of our state pension system. We also met with the various 1950s women lobby groups. Something that struck us so profoundly was the urgency for many women; they needed something doing now and can’t wait six months let alone two years or more. And as we all know by 2022, most 1950s born women will have retired. Something needs to be done now!
Labour is the only party bringing forward options that the Government has no reason to refuse. The pension credit and an early retirement option are first steps towards justice for these women that the Government could do now. I reiterate once more this does not preclude additional action to right this wrong. I hope you will work with us to force the Government to put into place the necessary and appropriate transitional protections to end this injustice.
I’m about to start the next leg of our national Pension Tour and would be delighted to come and speak to your CLP members about this or anything else in my brief. Do ring or email me on the above contact details.
Best wishes and thanks.
Debbie Abrahams MP
Oldham East & Saddleworth
Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary