MORE than 95,000 people have signed a parliamentary petition calling for the UK Government to make reasonable transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s, who claim they could lose thousands of pounds because of the rise in the state pension age.
The subject will be debated next month in a motion tabled by SNP MP Mhairi Black, the youngest member in the Commons.
It welcomes the equalisation of the state pension age to bring women’s retirement age into line with that of men, but claims that it “directly discriminates against women born on or after 6 April 1951, leaving women with only a few years to make alternative arrangements”.
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It goes on to say that this adversely affects their retirement plans and will cause undue hardship. SNP pensions spokesperson Ian Blackford said that at the heart of the matter was the basic issue of fairness given women born in the 1950s are having to wait additional years before being able to access their state pensions.
He told The National: “There is the unfairness of that in itself, and the fact that it hasn’t been properly communicated. People who had been expecting to retire in their early 60s are having to wait until they are 65. It’s the lack of any transitional arrangements that affects women who have worked for over 35 years and qualified for what used to be called the ‘full stamp’ and find their retirement has to be put on hold.
“We’re not arguing that there shouldn’t be equalisation, of course there should, but it shouldn’t happen over such a short period that penalises so many people. There has to be a proper transition, it has to happen over a longer period.”
One woman affected by the change is 61-year-old Carol Inglis, who owns the Isle of Skye Fudge Company at Dunvegan. She had intended to retire at the age of 63, when her husband was 66, but she calculated that the lack of a proper transition period would cost her more than £24,000.
“I did the sums after I recently got a pension statement,” said
Inglis. “I worked out the number of weeks I was going to be losing and I reckoned it came to £24,000, which is really quite shocking. My issue was not that the pension age was changing – it obviously has to with people living longer, and it was unfair that men and women retired at different ages.
“I lost three years overnight because I fell within this birthdate period. I’ve worked since I was 17 and never took a break when I had children, so I had 44 qualifying years. It’s quite scandalous to be honest.”
Inglis said she took a voluntary severance package when she was 55 and turned her part-time confectionery business into a full-time enterprise.
“That was based on me retiring at the age of 63, but now it’s going to be almost 66, so I’m working an extra three years just to stand still,” she said. “It was all done quite quietly. I don’t recall receiving anything in black and white explaining the changes. I just picked up on something in the press.”
A DWP spokesman said: “The existence of different state pension ages for women and men represents a longstanding inequality, and the abolition of this discriminatory situation is long overdue.
“The last government introduced future changes to the state pension age for women and men, following extensive debates in both Houses of Parliament.”
A spokesperson for Age Scotland added: “Although we welcome the equalisation of the state pension age, we are concerned that individuals may not be aware of changes taking place or have had enough time to plan for the future.
“If anyone is concerned about this issue they can call Silver Line Scotland, our free phone helpline, on 0800 4 70 80 90.”