Pensions

Pension age rise – what it means (From South Wales Argus)

WITH the work and pensions secretary announcing that the state pension age will rise from 67 to 68 from 2037 last week – what will this mean for those affected?

David Gauke announced the rise in state pension last week and told MPs the government was accepting the recommendation made in the Cridland Review earlier this year. This will bring the change in age forward seven years earlier than was initially planned, with the changes being brought about in around two years.

Mr Gauke told the Commons that this timetable would reduce the rise by 0.4 per cent of GDP in 2039/40 – equivalent to a saving of around £400 per household.

Mr Gauke said: “As the Cridland Review makes clear, the increases in life expectancy are to be celebrated, and I want to make clear that even the timetable for the rise that I’m announcing today, future pensioners can still expect on average more than 22 years in receipt of the state pension.

“But increasing longevity also presents challenges to the Government.

“There is a balance to be struck between funding of the state pension in years to come whilst also ensuring fairness for future generations of taxpayers.”

The number of people over state pension age is expected to grow by a third between 2017 and 2042, from 12.4 million in 2017 to 16.9 million in 2042, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Under new plans, the pension age will increase to 68 between 2037 and 2039, earlier than the current legislation which sees a rise between 2044 and 2046.

The change will affect everyone born between April 6, 1970 and April 5, 1978, meaning they won’t be able to retire until the age of 68.

However, this is not the first time that a change in state pension has meant a long wait.

In 1995, the Pensions Act increased women’s state pension age to 65, the same as men’s. And the Pensions Act 2011 accelerated the existing timetable for increasing the state pension age to 66.

At the time, many organisations recommended that the government should ensure that the women affected were given fair notice of the changes.

These recommendations were seemingly ignored by the government and it is said that 3.5 million women across the UK have had little to no time to make alternative arrangements for their retirement.

Due to this, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) groups were set up around the country to campaign and try to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to the state pension law.

It is said by WASPI that women affected by the changes are suffering “huge financial difficulties” because of the changes implemented, with some losing “up to £45,000 without any other source of income”.

One MP in Gwent who is in support of WASPI is Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East.

In Newport East, according to the independent House of Commons Library, around 3,320 women are directly affected by the 2011 Pensions Act alone. More than 1,000 Gwent residents have signed the e-petition calling for transitional arrangements, which received almost 200,000 signatures nationwide.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Ms Morden said: “The WASPI women I have spoken to made their voices heard clearly in the general election by lobbying candidates, and voting for candidates who listened and committed to fight this huge injustice.

“The government should not and cannot take these women for granted any more. Their voice will be heard and needs to be heeded. They are women who have sacrificed their careers for caring; who were unable to take up suitable workplace pensions, often due to unequal pay in the past. Many, because of ill health, are not able to work the extra years the government now expect of them.

“That is illustrated by a constituent who asked me to raise her case and sadly died recently. At the age of 62, she had to give up work after 45 years after a long battle with cancer. She had a demanding job, and she just could not continue. The change meant that she was denied more than £38,000. She was unable to enjoy her retirement and was very worried about the financial hardship that meant. That shows the real human impact of this government policy.”

Celia Jones, 63, of Newport, is one of the women behind the Wales and West WASPI group which is open to women in areas within a 60 mile radius of Cardiff. Ms Jones set up the WASPI group on March 31 last year.

With around 440 members Ms Jones said the group is paramount to helping women achieve state pension equality.

She said: “Many of the members have quite emotional stories regarding their circumstances. One of our members is near retirement age and is still working as a teacher because she can’t afford to retire and she has had a hip replacement. She shouldn’t still be working.

“There’s a world of difference between being 58 and then in your 60s things go wrong.”

Speaking about last week’s news of the increase from 2037, Ms Jones said she believes it is wrong to raise the age again but also said that there has been notice, which there wasn’t for herself and other women her age.

“I never knew about the 1995 increase,” she said. “I never received a letter and I found out from a friend that the age was rising. I found that out in 2005, ten years after the 1995 act.

“At least there has been notice with this one, it doesn’t make it any better but at least there is notice which there should have been with the other acts.”

Due to the pension age increase, Ms Jones was originally due to get her state pension later this year, but due to the constant acceleration she now has to wait nearly two years for it. She also said that due to the lack of notice, women affected by the previous state pension increase have had to dip into their savings to keep themselves financially afloat.

Ms Jones said: “People are eating into their savings which is pretty dire, it shouldn’t be happening. The hardest hit are those without a family or partner – they are struggling the most to keep themselves going financially.”

Find the Wales and West WASPI group on Facebook. visit facebook.com/groups/199654010410711/

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