What a Difference a Year Makes

Like me, you may be one of the many women born during the 1950s preparing to retire at 60 only to be told, sorry but the rules have changed. Furthermore, you need to hope that you will be able to remain in gainful employment until 65, 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born. Who is to say the Government won’t move the goal post yet again before we reach 67?

pensions-saga-co-uk
Saga.co.uk

It seems inconceivable that a difference of one year can result in a 3.5 year increase to the state pension age (SPA), resulting in some women suffering a loss of up to £30,000 due to the delay in receiving their state pensions.

Not only are women up in arms about the unfair changes related to the state pension age, but also the speed with which the changes have been implemented. Furthermore, the Department of Work and Pensions has been woefully incompetent in the way these changes were communicated to those affected. According to the SNP’s MP, Mhairi Black, women have been well and truly “shafted and short-changed”.

It is not that women are objecting to the equalization of the state pension age for men and women, but it is the speed with which the changes have been implemented. There has also been no consultation with the group affected by the changes. It has had catastrophic consequences to the retirement plans of a great number of women.

The decision will leave a large proportion of women in financial hardship. Given the speed of implementation, some women would not have the time to make alternative arrangements. On the other hand, men have had longer to prepare for these changes. Furthermore, the addition to their pensionable age is one year as opposed to 7 years for some of us born during the 1950s.

It is almost inconceivable that the Government did not deem it necessary to notify the women affected by these changes for nearly 14 years. What is even more inconceivable is that some women did not find out that their SPA had been delayed until 60 when they were already age 59. I would think it would be impossible for anyone to prepare for a life-changing event at such short notice. In fact, there are many women who did not receive any notification at all.

pensions-dentons
Pensions-Dentons

The difficulty faced by the Government is that any concessions they might consider would run into billions of pounds. With the uncertainty around Brexit it would seem unlikely that this would be an option. However, it seems immoral that the Government can renege on a contract entered into with these women and who have relied on it being honored.

A contributing fact to the changes is that both men and women are living a lot longer than the SPA when it was first established during the 1940s. Women in particular live longer and are healthier than during the 1940s. It would seem that women are being penalized for living longer on average than men.

An interim report published by the works and pensions select committee suggested that the women affected by these changes should be given the option to retire earlier with a cut in their pension. However, by the time the Government has acted on these suggestions, it may be too late for many women.

There are a number of factors that are not taken into account when considering the impact on this particular group of women. In the first instance, many born during the 1950s were not able to join private pension schemes. Secondly, many worked part time to enable them to take care of family commitments, whether that was raising a family or retiring early to look after elderly relatives. Many women had expected to receive their pensions at the age of 60 to compensate for the loss of income incurred given these circumstances.

It is interesting to note that MPs, judges and civil servants within 10 years from their retirement age have had their occupational pensions protected. Why should the same not apply to the group of women who have been so wrongfully robbed of their pension contributions?

Assuming that women within this age bracket would be willing to continue working for another 7 years in some cases, the question is would they be able to do so? In my experience, irrespective of the law against age discrimination, it is rare for an organization to employ anyone beyond a certain age.

Is it not shortsighted on the part of the Government to save money on pensions just to have to pay some of these women benefits to survive until they reach pensionable age? Furthermore, what guarantees do we have that in the future our pensions are to be protected? There is already mention of scrapping the triple lock guarantee of minimum increases to the state pension.

Given the rise in the cost of the extravagant civil servants’ pensions over the years, this group of women, together with the younger generation who will no doubt have to retire even later, are having to make sacrifices to allow the Government to meet these costs in the light of falling returns on investment.

 

 

 

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