Terming the government’s planned increase of state pension age for women as ‘unfair’, Dr. Ros Altmann has accused the government of letting down half a million women in their late fifties by refusing to delay the implementation of the increased age of state pension for women.
The director general of SAGA said there was no sign of the “transition arrangements” as promised for the proposed pension age changes. Ms Altmann was participating in a debate on the Pensions Bill in the committee rooms of the House of Commons.
“Women in their late fifties, who have been singled out to bear the brunt of the government’s plans to save money on state pensions, have been offered no relief”, said Dr. Altmann.
“Worryingly, it became clear in the committee debate that many of those who will be affected do not even yet know what will happen and there are only five or six years left before the changes start”, she added.
Dr. Altmann said she did not dispute the increase in age and not against equalisation, but questioned the manner in which it was done.
“Everyone agrees that men and women’s pension ages should be equalised, and that the state pension age needs to rise. The problem with the Pensions Bill proposals, however, is one of timing and the disproportionate unfairness of forcing just one group of women to bear the brunt of the change”, she reasoned.
“The government tells us to plan for pensions over the long-term, they did this and then had the goalposts moved a second time without time to make long-term preparations. Many women made careful financial plans to ensure their small savings could last them until state pension age, and now find that they will be left for up to two years with nothing to live on – despite doing what the government urges everyone to do and plan ahead for their future”, she lamented.
Suggesting alternatives, she said the government would have saved more money if it delayed its current plan.
“By keeping the current timetable that will equalise men and women’s pension age at 65 in 2020 and then accelerating the rise to 66 in 2021, moving on to 66-and-a-half by around 2025, the government can save even more than £30billion in the period 2015-2025”, she said.
“This would be far fairer than the current proposals, would give people time to prepare properly and would save more money”, argued Ms. Altmann.