Sunderland MP joins group aiming to fight women's pension inequality

Sharon Hodgson hopes to help bring about pension equality for women.
Sharon Hodgson hopes to help bring about pension equality for women.
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Wearside MP Sharon Hodgson has become a founding member of a new group tackling State pension inequality.

The MP for Washington and Sunderland West has joined MPs from across the House of Commons to form a new Parliamentary group on the State pension age.

It will support those women hit by the acceleration of the equalisation of the State pension age, first in 1995 and then in 2011.

In her constituency, according to the independent House of Commons Library, around 4,390 women are directly affected by the 2011 Pensions Act alone.

An e-petition calling for transitional arrangements received almost 200,000 signatures nationwide, including 315 local residents.

Mrs Hodgson recently spoke in an opposition debate in February, secured by the Labour Party, on the issue of introducing transitional arrangements for women affected by the equalisation of the State pension age and raised the case of a local constituent impacted by the changes.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign works to lobby the Government for transitional arrangements for affected women, many of whom were not notified about the changes, and took early retirement, leaving them without any income.

The Parliamentary Group, launched at the Palace of Westminster yesterday, will be co-chaired by MPs from each of the parties, and will work closely with the WASPI campaign.

The All-Party Group will seek to work with the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, to introduce transitional arrangements.

Speaking after the launch, Mrs Hodgson said: “No one can disagree with the equalisation of the State pension age.

"However, many of my constituents have contacted me with concerns about how unfair the equalisation of the pension age has been on women born in the 1950s, with many writing to me to highlight their concerns or signing various petitions on this matter.

“No one should have to live out their retirement in destitution or deal with stress, when arrangements can be put in place to support those affected.

“That is why I am proud to be a founding member of this new Parliamentary campaign group, and hope to work closely with other Members of Parliament, the WASPI campaign and local women in my constituency who have been affected by these changes and lobby the new Work and Pensions Secretary to ensure that WASPI women get the equitable outcome they deserve.”