Four reasons women are angry about state pension changes

Chris Torney / 29 January 2016 ( 05 April 2016 )

What are the changes and why will they disadvantage some women?

Thousands of women who are being forced to wait for their state pensions are continuing their battle against unfair treatment.

A petition set up by the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign last October has now far surpassed the 100,000 signatures it needed to force parliament to examine the matter.

As a result, the issue was raised at a Westminster Hall debate on 1 February.

This followed a House of Commons debate on the same topic on 7 January, which came about as a result of pressure put on MPs by WASPI over the course of 2015.

So what are the main reasons campaigners are so angry about changes to the state pension system?

Will you have to wait longer for your state pension?

1. Thousands of women have now faced a double pension delay

In 1995, John Major’s Conservative government introduced legislation to equalise men’s and women’s state pension ages (SPAs). At the time, they stood at 65 and 60 respectively.

The new law said that between 2010 and 2020, women’s SPA would rise gradually to 65.

In 2011, however, the coalition government decided that both men’s and women’s SPA would have to rise to 66 to reflect increased life expectancy. A law was passed to ensure this happened by 2020. 

As a result, thousands of women who were already being made to wait until they were 63, 64 or 65 to get their pensions would face a further delay.

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2. Changes were not properly communicated

Part of the problem, campaigners say, is that the 1995 change was not properly communicated to the women affected. As a result, many 50-something women who had expected to retire at 60 at some point in this decade found they either had to carry on working or eat into their savings.

The lack of proper communication meant they had not had the opportunity to plan their finances to cope with a later SPA.

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3. Move to 66 comes too soon

The fact that some women have only had a handful of years to make plans for the increase in the SPA to 66 at the end of this decade has also caused problems. 

WASPI says it is unfair that legislation introduced in 2011 will affect people who were expecting to retire in 2018 and beyond, and that these women have had little chance to prepare themselves financially.

Seven signs that you need to get on top of your finances.

4. The new pension system could mean less money

Finally, many of the women affected by the change in SPA will now get their pensions under the new flat-rate state pension scheme, which started on 6 April 2016, as a result of the delay.

In some cases, this could lead to a lower weekly payment. 

For example, women are, in general, no longer able to rely on their husband’s National Insurance record when claiming their pension. And the NI threshold for entitlement to a full pension has risen from 30 to 35 years’ contributions.

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