Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Could Face Defeat over Pension Changes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Could Face Defeat over Pension Changes

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com

THERESA May's Government could face defeat over concessions for women forced to wait years longer than expected for their pensions.

Campaigners believe that the Government's small minority in the House of Commons means supporters of the Women against State Pension Increase (WASPI) campaign could win a vote demanding changes.

There was outcry during a Commons debate on Wednesday when Pensions Minister Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said the Government would not make concessions but instead would offer the women affected apprenticeships or training to help them find a job.

But more than 20 Conservative MPs have said they support the WASPI campaign while the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has agreed to prop up Mrs May's Government, has a policy of calling for support for the women affected.

The Government has a working majority of just 13 when the 10 DUP MPs are included, following June's election.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris said the election result provided an opportunity to force through changes.

He said: "It would have been difficult to secure meaningful changes to help the women affected without the support of the Government in the last Parliament.

"However, we now have that opportunity."

Laws passed in 1995 and 2011 equalised the pension age for men and women, ending the old system in which women retired at 60 and men at 65. It meant everyone now receives their pension at the age of 65, and this will rise to 66 by 2020.

But critics say many women born in the 1950s were not made aware of the changes in time to plan ahead, and now face years of retirement without their pension.

Mr Morris urged Conservative MPs to work with Labour colleagues to win concessions for the women.

He said: "It is my intention to work with all members, irrespective of party, to secure justice for the WASPI campaigners. …

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