Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill

An equal pension is the goal but women disproportionately affected by the discriminatory Pensions Bill are starting from a disadvantage, writes Age UK's Hilary Evans.

Hilary Evans is head of public affairs at Age UK

Yesterday’s debate on the Pensions Bill was an opportunity for MPs of all parties to raise concerns about the numbers of women affected by the proposals to speed up the increase in the state pension age to 66. While the bill was voted through its second reading stage, last night saw some concessions from Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on supporting those most affected by the bill’s provisions.

The current bill proposes to increase the speed at which women’s pension age rises to 65 to equalise with men’s, a process that is currently in train, and then to bring forward the start of the rise from 65 to 66 for both men and women from 2024 under current legislation, to 2018.

As such, the proposals impact on nearly five million people across the country. Age UK’s campaign, and those of other organisations, has emphasised the impact on women in particular, of this change; while the new proposals will mean that no man will have to wait more than a year longer for his state pension, half a million women will face at least a twelve-month wait.

In fact 330,000 women will have to wait for eighteen months, while the worst-affected 33,000 will have to wait for a full two years longer than originally promised.

Government arguments have centred on the idea that encouraging women to work for longer before receiving their state pensions means that they can save more for retirement, making them better off. While true for some women, this simplistic assumption ignores the many women who are not able to work to 66.

Our new report, Not Enough Time (pdf), finds that significant numbers of women in the age-group affected by these changes cannot work due to caring responsibilities for parents or grandchildren, health issues or unemployment. Some have already retired, relying on small private pensions and savings to tide them over until they reach state pension age – savings that will not spread over an additional two years.

While the women affected broadly support equalising their pension ages with men, they feel that the proposed changes in the Pensions bill are too far and too fast. Under the Pensions Act 1995, this same cohort of women accepted that their pension age would rise from 60 to 65, but had fifteen years’ notice of the changes. These new proposals offer less than seven years’ notice of another rise in the pension age. It’s no wonder that women are telling us that the goalposts keep being moved.

An equal pension is the goal, but the women disproportionately affected by this discriminatory bill are starting from a low base. Many were excluded from workplace pension schemes for much of their working lives. The pay gap meant that they could contribute less to private pensions than their male colleagues. The median private pension wealth of women aged 56 is around one-sixth that of men, at £9,100 compared to £52,800 for a man of the same age.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said last year:

“In the past the pension system assumed that women did not need a pension, they needed a husband.”

But his bill is currently penalising the women who fared worst from this old-fashioned thinking about pensions, at a time when they have far too little time to plan for a delayed state pension.

Age UK is campaigning for the government not to start to raise the pension age from 65 to 66 until 2020 at the earliest, as per its promise to women in the coalition agreement. We will continue to work with parliamentarians of all parties to ensure that this bill does not expect women born in 1953 and 1954 to shoulder a massively disproportionate burden.

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26 Responses to “Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill”

  1. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @leftfootfwd Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill http://bit.ly/jpChjD via @Age_UK's @HilEvans @BiancaJagger

  2. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @leftfootfwd Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill http://bit.ly/jpChjD via @Age_UK @HilEvans – @BiancaJagger

  3. bob woods

    Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  4. Helen

    Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  5. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  6. GOVManslaughter

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  7. Clive Burgess

    Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  8. ann syers

    my Date of birth 22 02 1954 My husband has just retired at the age of 69.he worked on longer so we would have a bit more money for when i retire(so we can enjoy rerirement.) he will be 78 when i can retire.we have been married since 1974, and its the first time our 12 year age gap has caused a problem.
    we have had a very happy marriage alas it seems no happy leisure time for us.

  9. Mhairi McAlpine

    Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill: http://bit.ly/jpChjD writes @Age_UK's @HilEvans

  10. Joyce Allison

    I am very angry about this because I feel I had planned responsibly to look after myself in old age by buying extra NI contributions (for the years when I could not work due to the ill health of members of my family) expecting to receive the maximum state pension at 64. Now I have discovered it doesn’t matter how much planning I do – the Government can change the goalposts without allowing enough time for us to make up the shortfall (in my case the loss of 23 months pension).

  11. bev blake

    think it is disgraceful how women in their fifties are been treated. Wouldn’t dare do it to men , government should be ashamed!

  12. Karen

    I was born in 1954 and will be burdened with anxiety as to how I will manage until I can draw my state pension given I am already suffering physical exhaustion from my manual labour. Is anyone prepared to tackle this question as to what we are to do if we cannot work until our new state pension age ?

    Karen

  13. Teresita Javier

    This is so unfair not only for women born between 1953 and 1954 but to those born after April 1950. Having been born in March 1951 , and after reaching 60 this year , I am having to wait another 12 months to get my state pension!

  14. Larry Gardiner

    'Yesterday’s debate on the Pensions Bill was an opportunity for MPs of all parties to raise concerns about the… http://fb.me/KF3MYwKt

  15. mr. Sensible

    Couldn’t agree more Hilary; equalization is a good thing, and we all probably need to work longer as we are all living longer, but the current changes are going through too fast.

  16. jacqui stupart

    Although it is understood that everyone needs to work longer is it really so? Why don’t you give my job to an unemployed youngster and they can have my salary and I will have their benefit until I can realise my pension and therefore I can still retire at 60.

  17. Leon Wolfson

    Agreed. Moreover, there’s no need to bring in two years change at once, they can phase changes in based on birth year. A mechanism which adjusts pension age based on life expectation, rather than it being directly set by the government, would help as well.

  18. Daniel Pitt

    Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill http://t.co/2MIbbhD #ConDemNation

  19. Colin Thomas

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill http://t.co/pxZES2b

  20. mr. Sensible

    Jacqui how can that possibly work?

  21. Jen

    I’ve just watched a video of cleaners protesting with mops and singing songs in Tesco about their low wages. I’m paid £5.98 per hour for cleaning for the rich and powerful, £140 per week, so no wonder our low wages are creating millionaires. I’m expected to save for my retirement – exactly how when my outgoings are equal to my wages and my quality of life is ”bargain basement”

    You lucky ladies who managed to retire at 60 – something I can only dream of along with a bus pass, and other things designed to help those who are poor and needy.

    The news today says over 65’s are drinking too much alcohol – so only ”elderly” when it comes to drink, but not when it comes to taking away our pensions.

    If I die before reaching my retirement age of 66 the pension I never lived to see will go to boost the Treasury. I’d like to make a living will stating that my lost £15,000 if that be the future case not be used for making the rich richer, bombs, and funding another war.

    What was the point of fighting to abolish child labour in this country more than a century ago only to introduce working oldies until they drop ?

    I started work 2 weeks after my 15th Birthday some of my class mates born August 1954 started work at 14 yrs old

    Jen, class of 54

  22. Not Enough Time: The Pensions Bill’s impact on women | Age UK Blog

    […] This post originally appeared on Left Foot Forward. […]

  23. Bianca Jagger

    Denounce Unfair&DiscriminatoryBill RT @leftfootfwd: Women disproportionately affected by discriminatory Pensions Bill http://t.co/FWyo562

  24. Kim Blake

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  25. SierraKhan

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  26. Pat

    What frustrates me more than anything is that this is supposed to be a democratic country but the government take no notice of the very people who are working to pay taxes to pay their wages.

    I am also in my late fifties and am being given a double whammy by not only having to wait almost two years longer for my pension but where I work for the nhs I have also had my wages frozen for two years…I think they are being very disrespectful to those who are working hard for their retirement.

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