Labour makes pledges on women's retirement and universal credit

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Debbie Abrahams. Pic: PA.
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Debbie Abrahams. Pic: PA.

Labour would allow hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s to retire at 64 on a reduced state pension, rather than having to wait until 66, the party has announced.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams also called for a pause in the roll-out of universal credit, to allay fears that claimants will be plunged into poverty as it is extended across the country over the next 12 months

Changes to the state pension age being brought in by the Government mean many women who had expected to retire at 60 will have to work several years longer before receiving support.

Many were caught by surprise when the timetable for moving to the later retirement age was accelerated in 2011.

The Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign is pushing for a transitional "bridging pension" to help women whose retirement plans have been thrown into disarray.

Labour has already promised to extend pension credit to the women affected, and in its manifesto for the June general election the party said it was "exploring options for further transitional protections to ensure that all these women have security and dignity in older age".

Now Ms Abrahams is set to announce to the Labour conference in Brighton that the women will be offered the chance to retire at 64 on a reduced state pension, instead of 66 under the Government plans. The change would benefit women born between 1954 and 1960.

Precise figures on how much pension the women would get were not immediately available, but Ms Abrahams will say the scheme would be "cost-neutral in the long term" and would mean that all those affected by the Government's "chaotic mismanagement" would have a chance to retire earlier.

Ms Abrahams will also say there is evidence of "deepening poverty" as more welfare claimants are transferred to universal credit, which replaces a range of older benefits.

She will cite reports that one in four claims are not paid within six weeks, leading to increased debt and mounting rent arrears.