Ruth George: Statement on the State Pension Age

I absolutely understand the plight of women who were born in the 1950’s who have seen their State Pension Age increased not once but twice, by up to 6 years.

A huge campaign, including Parliament’s biggest ever petition, has called on the Government to undo the unfair and unjust changes in the 2011 Pension Act. Despite the brilliant work of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, the Conservative Government has refused to budge.

Some people are able to work up to age 66 but many are not, so in 2011 I led a campaign against the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats’ unjust changes in the then Pension Bill, which made some small gains (details below).

If I am elected as your MP I will continue to take the fight of the WASPI women to Parliament.

If a Labour Government is elected, we will extend Pension Credit to those who would have expected to retire under the previous timetable. This is worth £155 a week and is a very good start, but I think we need to go further and call for the WASPI women to be fully protected.

The State Pension Age is due to rise to 66 by the end of 2020. Labour rejects the Conservatives’ proposal to increase the State Pension Age even further, and will commission a new review of the pension age, specifically tasked with developing a flexible retirement policy to reflect both the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy, and the different nature of working lives.

In 2011, in my role as Parliamentary Officer for Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union, after being contacted by one of our members who was affected, I worked with Labour Shadow Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves and led a campaign of trade union members against the unfair and rapid increase to age 66 which the Conservatives and Lib Dems proposed in the Pensions Bill.

I informed thousands of women how much they would be affected and encouraged them to write to their MP to tell them how it would affect their lives and thousands did so. We set up a petition at that time which over 100,000 people signed and we delivered it to 10 Downing Street.

As a result of that campaign, the government capped the additional wait for a state pension at 18 months rather than 2 years, but that has still left hundreds of thousands of women having to struggle on, trying to work, when they had planned to retire.

That is why I am delighted that the Labour Party as a whole has recognised this injustice and will support women whose retirement age has been suddenly and unfairly raised again.