As you may be aware, equalising State Pension Age was necessary to meet the UK’s obligations under EU law to eliminate gender inequalities in social security provision. The Pensions Act 1995 legislated for this to be done gradually after 2010. Following sharp increases in life expectancy projections, the Government had to accelerate this process in the Pensions Act 2011 to secure the sustainability of the system.
Under the 1995 Act, women’s State Pension Age was scheduled to increase from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020. As a result of the 2011 reforms, it will now reach 65 in November 2018. The Government did listen to concerns raised at the time, and I am pleased that as a result the maximum increase in the State Pension Age was capped at 18 months relative to the 1995 timetable.
The Department for Work and Pensions is clear that all those women affected were written to between January 2012 and November 2013. Those affected by the 1995 changes were also contacted between April 2009 and March 2011. Whilst I understand the view of the WASPI campaign that transitional protection should be put in place, pushing back the change for some women would not only add further complication to the system but could also cost taxpayers many billions of pounds. I would, however, consider supporting a change that smoothed the process if one was presented; I note that nobody has produced such a plan in the five years since the Act, however.
All of those women affected will receive the new Single Tier Pension. This new State Pension will be much fairer for women, who will now have years taken out of work to raise a family counted towards their National Insurance record. Around 650,000 women will receive an average of £8 more per week in the first ten years as a result.