Angela Crawley MP for Lanark and Hamilton East has renewed calls for the UK Government to create a transitional arrangement for women affected by accelerated pension ages following the release of independent research on the policy.
The research paper by Landman Economics was commissioned by the SNP Westminster group and showed that 2.6 million women born in the 1950s have been denied their pension across the UK – including 4,900 women in Lanark and Hamilton East.
The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated planned increases in women’s State Pension Age from 63 to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018, and from 65 to 66 by October 2020 – but it has been alleged the Government did not inform affected women of the changes.
The issue has been widely debated in the House of Commons and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) groups have worked tirelessly to campaign for the introduction of transitional measures but the UK Government has refused to act – saying that, at a cost of £30 billion it would simply be too expensive to correct their mistakes of the past.
However, the research by Landman Economics has found that it would cost £8 billion to return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pensions Act – a significantly cheaper option for the UK Government which would go some way to ending the injustice served to these women and would help to alleviate pensioner poverty.
The National Insurance Fund (NIF) had a £20.9 billion surplus at the end of March 2015 and the latest forecasts project a surplus of £26.3 billion at the end of this year and £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18.
Ms Crawley said: “A pension is not a privilege, it is an entitlement and yet millions of women born in the 1950s are struggling to make ends meet because they are being denied their pension – many women are facing real hardship and they need action now.
“The UK Government have tried to wash their hands of this crisis but that is simply not good enough. This independently researched report, commissioned by the SNP, reveals the five options immediately available to the UK Government to deliver dignity in retirement for the 2.6 billion women affected and ensure that the mistakes of the past are corrected.
“The second option would allow a return to the 1995 Pensions Act and would slow the rise of the state pension age for women to reach 65 by 2021. At £8 billion, this option is the second most expensive but it pales in comparison to the £30 billion figure often used by Tory politicians attempting to absolve themselves of any responsibility.
“The National Insurance Fund is billions of pounds in surplus and can be only be used to pay for contributory benefits such as the State Pension.
“Millions of pensioners, workers and their employers have no idea that the money they are paying in National Insurance contributions every month is not being used to pay higher pensions and benefits.
“The Tories have nowhere to hide anymore. They can afford to right the wrong that is impacting millions of women because they are being refused access to their pension and they must take immediate action.”