Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Pension Equalisation Debate

Pension Equalisation Debate

Today we are debating the important issue of the equalisation of the State Pension age for men and women (thanks to Mhairi Black who secured the debate). The UK Government’s dreadful handling of this change has resulted in profoundly unfair effects for women born between 6 April 1951 and the early 1960s. They now have to contend not just with the equalisation of their retirement age to the new higher age of 66, but also with this happening over a very short period of time.

The injustice here springs from the lack of notice provided to women born in the 50s and early 60s, despite having previously been promised more time to plan and greater tapering provisions. Understandably, many then relied on and factored in these promises for their retirement planning.

The transitional protections promised by previous administrations are now being reneged upon, leaving some women with as little as 8 years notice that they will have to wait a further 18 months before being able to draw their State Pension. This is causing huge distress and anxiety for many women affected because of the sudden gap it is creating in their retirement and pension arrangements. It also flies in the face of the Pensions Commission’s recommendation that at least 15 years notice should be given for major changes to the State Pension Age.

My SNP colleagues and I recognise that the State Pension age must increase because people are living longer, a fact of which everyone is of course glad. We recognise too that it is only fair for women to start receiving their State Pension at the same age as men. However, we are deeply concerned by the very unfair manner in which the Government has gone about putting the equalisation into effect. This is causing real hardship, uncertainty and anxiety for a great many of the thousands of women affected and we call upon the Government to rethink these ill-conceived plans.

I have been contacted by many constituents, some of whom have kindly agreed that I can share their stories of how this policy has affected them:

Wilma Robertson:

Wilma is the youngest of three sisters.

Her oldest sister was born in 1947 but sadly died nearly 20 years ago. She would now have been receiving her State Pension.
Wilma’s middle sister was born in 1949 and so was one of the last women to get her State Pension in full at the age of 60 – around six years ago – because she was born before the date set by the Finance Act 1995.

Wilma herself, having been born in 1955, will not be able to draw her State Pension until she turns 65. Wilma was aware of this from around 2000 but then learnt in 2011 that George Osborne was planning to push retirement age up to 66 for women in her age cohort.

Wilma feels the issue is about basic fairness – she feels cheated and robbed. She is concerned for other women of her age (including several of her friends) who have been pushed into severe financial difficulty by this policy.

Andrea Gregory:

Andrea gave up her job in August 2009, just before reaching 56 with the expectation that she would work freelance until she reached 60 and received her State Pension.

She then received news in September 2010, that she wouldn't get the State Pension until the age of 63 years, 7 months. This information was buried in a pension forecast she had requested. She has never received an official notification of this change.
At the age of 58 years, 3 months, Andrea did receive official notification, this time informing her that she wouldn't receive State Pension until turning 64 years, 9 months.

She has not received the tapering she could reasonably have expected. A friend, who is 6 months older than her, will receive her State Pension a full 2 years earlier than Andrea will.

The WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign has been fighting against these discriminatory effects of the Government’s acceleration of the process to bring men and women’s pensions into line. WASPI’s petition has been signed by over 100,000 people calling on the Government to bring forward a fairer system for women born in the 1950s. You can find out more about their campaign on their Facebook Page.

Pride and Pantomime in House of Commons
New Year Blog


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, 21 January 2019

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
11 December 2018
Tommy's Blog
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more farcical, yesterday happened. Government ministers spent the weekend assuring us the vote planned for today would go ahead. Some were even claiming the PM might win it (it’s nearly Christmas after all, the season of miracles). Even late yesterday morning the Downing St press office were still telling us the vote was going ahead, while the PM was h...
Tommy Sheppard
23 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
It’s been a little while since I've written a blog on Brexit. Things are now moving quite quickly so I thought it might be helpful for me to share a few of my thoughts on where we are.The proposal put forward by Theresa May last week is not a good one and not one I can support. While the SNP Scottish government remain of the view that the best option for Scotland would be to remain in the European...
Tommy Sheppard
08 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
The budget was last week. Did you notice? As squibs go, this one was pretty damp. We’ll be debating the detail in the finance bill next week but the real story is one of indifference and missed opportunity.Since the 2008 crash, governments across the western world have seen their revenues unable to meet spending. In the US and most European countries the response was to use the power and funds of ...
Tommy Sheppard
11 October 2018
Tommy's Blog
We were supposed to set off from Johnston Terrace at one o’clock on last Saturday’s march for independence. In fact, it was a quarter past two by the time I turned into the Lawnmarket and began the walk down the Royal Mile to Holyrood.That’s what happens when the biggest gathering in years descends upon the centre of Edinburgh and parades through narrow medieval streets. As a popular tweet quipped...