Following an online petition that attracted more than 106,000 signatures, the House of Commons will tomorrow debate the rise in women’s state pension age (SPA). The debate is to be led by the SNP MP Mhairi Black.
The controversy has arisen over the speed of increase in SPA and arguably inadequate communication with the women affected, rather than with the increase per se. Demands for compensation are being led by the campaign group WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality).
Details of the changes and when those women affected were notified can be found on our sister site, Money Observer, here.
Women born in 1953 and 1954 are being particularly hard hit, with relatively little notice of a rise of up to 18 months in their SPA.
The petition calls for fairer transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s. But the government’s line is that all women affected have been directly contacted following the changes. It says in response to the petition: ‘There are no plans to alter State Pension age arrangements for this group.’
The Commons petitions committee confirmed today that it will not at present grant a debate on the petition for redress for the women affected. The matter will be reconsidered by the committee after tomorrow’s broader debate in the Commons.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee is already in the midst of a series of hearings to investigate the government’s communication of state pension age changes.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, comments that although there is considerable support for these women’s cause, some have a better case than others, and moreover any concession by the government could cost billions of pounds.
‘[That] is why the government’s position continues to be that no further concessions will be made,’ he says. ‘The DWP’s communications around the state pension changes generally have been pretty poor; if they had got that right in the first place, we might not have this problem now.’
He adds: ‘The question is whether the government will make any concessions, knowing the cost could very quickly run into billions, or stick to their guns and suffer the inevitable ill-feeling and negative publicity this would cause.’