Wednesday, 30 November 2016 19:48

UK GOVERNMENT MUST LISTEN TO THE “WILL OF THE PEOPLE” ON WASPI

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WOMEN BORN IN THE 1950s UNFAIRLY HIT BY CHANGES TO PENSION AGE

The Scottish National Party has today highlighted the gross pensions inequality for women born in the 1950s and has urged the UK Government to “listen to the will of the people” and help the 2.6 million women who have been affected by rapid increases to the state pension age.

MPs have debated the issue in Parliament numerous times, including a Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign petition that attracted almost 200,000 signatures and a Backbench Business Debate which called on the UK Government to introduce transitional measures for the women impacted by the changes. The SNP’s debate motion passed with overwhelming cross-party support and no opposition from the Government benches.

Today, SNP MPs led an Opposition Day Debate to keep up the pressure on the UK Government and ensure that the WASPI women receive the pensions they are due. The SNP led motion was defeated with 234 MPs for and 293 against.

Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s pensions spokesperson, said:

“This UK Government has treated the women impacted by changes to the state pension age with utter contempt - women born in the 1950s have had their retirement plans completely shattered and as if this wasn’t bad enough their democratic voice and the will of this Parliament is being ignored by this Tory Government.

“The UK Government must listen to the will of the people and act immediately to introduce transitional measures for the WASPI women.

“Debate after debate in the House of Commons has demonstrated the strength of public opinion on this matter and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet because they have been denied the pension they are due.

“The SNP’s independently-researched report shows that relaxing the rapid increases to the state pension age for women born in the 1950s back to the timetable set out in the 1995 Act would – at £8 billion – be significantly more affordable than the Tories’ claim that it would cost £30 billion.

“Instead of forking out for upgrades to the Palace of Westminster and billions on nuclear weapons, the Tories need to get their priorities right and deliver fairness for the millions of struggling women across the UK

“The UK Government should use the surplus in the National Insurance Fund to provide immediate relief to these women who have been badly let down are and due their pensions.”

Notes:

SNP Opposition Day Debate motion text:

That this House is concerned that the Government is not taking action to alleviate the injustice facing women affected by the acceleration of the state pension age; despite the House previously voting in favour of such changes; welcomes the Landman Economics Report into the impact of the changes to pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s, identifying an affordable solution which would slow down that increase in order to give adequate time for women affected by the acceleration to make alternative arrangements; and calls on the Government to work with the Women Against State Pension Inequality and Women Against State Pension Inequality Voice campaigns to also explore transitional protection for those affected.

Background:

1. The 1995 Pensions Act legislated to bring the state pension age for women in line with the age for men gradually over two decades but the 2011 Pensions Act rapidly accelerated the original timetable and the 2.6 million women affected by the changes – born in the 1950s – were not informed.
2. The SNP have argued that transitional measures to mitigate the issue would cost significantly less than the UK government’s £30 billion figure, with independent research commissioned by the SNP showing the cost would only sit at £8 billion.
3. The NIF surplus was £23.2 billion at the end of 2013/14, falling to £20.9 billion at the end of 2014/15 2015. GAD’s latest forecasts project a surplus of £25.7 at the end of 2015/16, £26.3 billion at the end of 2016/17 and £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18, based on prevailing NIC rates. Any surplus within the National Insurance Fund can only be used for contributory benefits and the State Pension falls into this category.

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