Richard Arkless, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, has welcomed an independent report which has shown that fairer transition arrangements for women’s pension could be achieved for women born in the 1950s.
The report was commissioned by the SNP Westminster Group and undertaken by Landman Economics. It analysed the costs and distributional impacts of a number of potential changes to pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s and looked at various reform options for compensating women who lost out due to the accelerated increases in the state pension age (SPA) specified in the Pensions Act 2011.
Changes to the SPA for women were introduced by the coalition government in 2007 with the intention of equalising the state pension age for both men and women from 65 to 66 between the years 2024 and 2026. Further changes in 2011 saw the government accelerate pension age equalisation for women, giving all women born on or after 6th April 1951 only 5 years notice that their state pension would not be paid until they were 66.
A campaign group WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) has argued that women born in the 1950s suffered disproportionately from the plans introduced in the 2011 Act, and has called on the government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women.
Mr Arkless said: “Despite growing pressure from MPs from across the House, the government have maintained that reversing the changes made to the 1995 Pensions Act would cost £30 billion and would simply be too expensive to implement.
“However, the independent report commissioned by the SNP has found that it would cost only £8billion to return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pension’s Act. By returning to this timetable, women would be given much more time to adapt to the increase in state pension age, it would then be possible to increase women’s state pension age to 66 at some later point in the 2020s.’
“Around 5,000 women across Dumfries and Galloway have been affected by the pension changes. The government have not given these women sufficient time to make alternative plans for their retirement and this has had devastating consequences for many women approaching their retirement age and their families. Some of the affected constituents I have spoken to have been in tears whilst telling me their story. It has been devastating for them.”
The WASPI campaign group launched an e-petition which attracted over 190,000 signatures and they have now launched a new ‘Public Petition to Parliament’, with signatures to be collected on paper. Mr Arkless went on to explain that signatures are to be collected by each individual constituency and delivered to the House of Commons on the same day to create the maximum amount of impact.
Dumfries and Galloway’s WASPI petition is available to sign at the constituency office, Unit 7, Loreburne Centre, Dumfries until Friday 7th October or it can be downloaded by visiting the WASPI Facebook page.
Mr Arkless added that on 11th October, each MP will present their constituencies petition independently to the House of Commons.