Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Unfair, Absurd and Unequal

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Unfair, Absurd and Unequal

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

LABOUR'S Catherine McKinnell has launched a scathing attack on David Cameron's pensions shake-up which ismleaving women in "real fear".

The Newcastle North MP said women born after 1953 who were approaching retirement age had been given no time to plan for an increase in the state pension age which will leave them with an uncertain future.

But the Government insisted they could make do by claiming other bene-fits such as Jobseeker's Allowance.

Work and pensions minister Shailesh Vara defended the policy by insisting it must to be considered in a "broad context", which includes a "whole lot of other benefits" plus other pensions changes.

Plans to increase the state pension age for women, known as state pension equalisation, were initially set out in 1995.

But the coalition government decided to speed up the process in 2011, and the state pension age for women is due to increase to 65 in November 2018 and to 66 by October 2020.

It means some women who expected to retire at 60 will now have to wait years longer before they become eligible for a state pension.

The Government wrote to people affected in 2012 and 2013, but critics say this didn't give them enough time to plan their future.

A number of MPs raised concerns in a Commons debate. Mrs McKinnell said the way the change had been introduced was "patently unfair and blatantly discriminatory" She said: "These pension changes have not been properly communicated to those affected, and women born in the 1950s have been disproportionately hit because their pension age has been increased not once but twice, with very little time for them to do anything about it. That relatively small group of women is being asked to bear the cost of making our pension system fair, sustainable and affordable for everyone else. …

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