Since the 1940s women have had an expectation that they will receive their State Pension at 60. However, in 1995 the government increased women's State Pension age to 65 to bring it in line with men - and in 2011 the Chancellor upped everyone's retirement age to 66.
The rule changes
The changes made in 1995 came into effect from 2010 to 2020 as women's pension age gradually moved from age 60 to age 65 across this decade. The changes made in 2011 came into effect later, starting in 2016 as women's pension age was moved out to age 66 in stages according to date of birth with women born after 6 September 1954 seeing their pension age move from 64 and a half as a result of the 1995 Act to age 66 as a result of the 2011 Act.
Women were not made aware about these changes until it was too late
So millions of women who thought they would be able to retire at 60 now have to wait years more before they become eligible for a state pension.
Not enough time to plan
As well as meaning many will be out of pocket - a major problem is how the changes were implemented. The government only wrote to women affected after January 2010 and critics say they this didn't give them enough warning and time to plan their financial future.
"Women were not made aware about these changes until it was too late. A number are facing real hardship as a result of effectively losing around £36,000 worth of pension with just a few years' warning," says Alan Higham of PensionsChamp.
Critics of the government including Alan Higham and campaign groups such as Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign would like to see fair transitional arrangements for all women affected.
"People cannot be left high and dry in hardship as a result. If the State is going to retrospectively reduce the bedrock of its citizen's retirement income then it ought to take reasonable steps to let those impacted know and give them enough time to adjust," says Alan.
WASPI petition secures new debate on changes
The good news is the Parliamentary Petitions Committee has now decided to grant a debate to the WASPI petition calling for 'Fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women'. The debate will take place on February 1.
"This is absolutely the right decision." says Tom McPhail at Hargreaves Lansdown. "The weight and momentum which this campaign has gathered warrants a full and considered response from the government. The government may believe that no policy adjustments should be made, however it should come to parliament, enter into debate and make its case.
"As part of this process, it should be possible to explore the options and costs of any potential transitional arrangement; without this debate, the obvious sense of injustice felt by many of these campaigners will only poison the forthcoming roll out of the New State Pension in April," Tom adds.
However, previous recent debates on this issue, in December 2015 in Westminster Hall and in the Commons last week were notable for the almost complete absence of any meaningful engagement from the government.
You can add your voice to the WASPI campaign here
Women & State Pension facts
- Over 300,000 women reach say age 63 in any given year but because their state pension age is being pushed backwards during the year only 90,000 women reach State Pension age in 2016/17 tax year compared with 320,00 men!
- More women than men rely on the State Pension with 60 per cent of women saying it's central to their retirement planning
- Some 68 per cent of women saying they would struggle to cover day-to-day costs without it, according to Aviva research.
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