Mhairi Black issues scathing attack on Tory government over pension changes aimed at women

Accelerated reforms will mean older women will have to wait an extra two years to retire

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Indy Politics

An SNP MP has launched a scathing attack on the Government over its plans to accelerate the equalisation of the pension age - meaning many older women will be forced to work for longer. 

On Wednesday, Mhairi Black tabled a motion in Parliament against proposals to accelerate planned changes to the retirement age which will mean millions of women in their late fifties will be unable to claim the state pension for an extra two years. 

It is a change to a law passed in 1995 that equalised the retirement age - women have traditionally been able to withdraw the state pension at 60 but men must wait till they are 65 - but it was originally designed to be phased in gradually. 

But proposed changes to the legislation first announced in 2011 mean women who had expected to start drawing their state pensions between 2016 and 2020 will face a delay of at least two years. 

It is part of wider changes that will save the state £30bn by increasing the retirment age to 66 for men and women by 2020 rather than by 2026.

Men will have longer to prepare for the small change in their retirement age - state pension age for them will start rising from 65 to 66 in 2018, according to Saga Magazine

In her speech, Ms Black lambasted the government for breaking its "contract" with older women. 

She said: "One of my constituents described [pensions] as a contract, and that is exactly what they are. Let me make this very simple. Everybody here has a phone - in fact, some of us are sitting with our iPads right now - and we all have contracts for those. 

"If O2, Virgin or Three were to change the terms and conditions of our contracts, we would have something to say about it. 

Women in their late fifties will have to wait an extra two years to retire

"If they waited 14 years to tell us about those changes, we would definitely have something to say about it. 

"If they said, on top of that, that we would be forced to live off our life savings as a result of those changes, we would be up in arms about it, and rightly so. So why are pensions any different?”

She said the Government always manages to find the money for bombing Syria or refurbishing Westminster so she cannot accept the argument that they cannot help pensioners. 

Work and Pensions Minister Shailesh Vara said in response: "If we unravel the 1995 pension reforms, as many people outside this place want us to do, it would cost £77 billion up to 2020-21, and the costs would continue to accrue after that period.

"The changes that were made, and the transitional arrangements made in 2011, benefited a quarter of a million women who would have otherwise have had a delay of up to two years. For more than 80% of those affected, the increase in the time period will be no more than 12 months.

"The Government is listening to the concerns of Members and responded to them at the time."