I have been contacted by many concerned and frustrated constituents over the last few weeks about the effect of state pension equalisation, and the related Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.
The Government’s decision to accelerate the increase in the women’s state pension age will have a detrimental impact on women born in the 1950s, many of whom will face real hardship as a result.
While I support the equalisation in the state pension age in principle, the way the Government has gone about this has been unfair.
These changes should take place with the greatest of care, so that those affected are given sufficient notice, allowing them adequate opportunity to plan for a new future. This has not been the case.
Labour has repeatedly asked the Government to look at transitional arrangements for those women born in the 1950s who are most severely affected by the changes.
When the Pensions Act was passing through Parliament in 2011, we proposed an amendment that would have maintained the qualifying age for pension credit at the previous timetable for the women’s state pension age.
This would have provided a buffer for those most harshly affected. The Government, however, voted against this and so it was not implemented.
I believe that inaction is no longer an option and that the Government must look again at the issue, putting forward proposals to help those most in need as a matter of urgency.
I will continue to support this campaign and put pressure on the Government to act, so that they properly alleviate the problems they have caused.