Tonia Antoniazzi MP: I won't let the Government off the hook over the State pension age for 1950s born women
Welsh Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi writes ahead of her Adjournment debate today on the State pension age for women born in the 1950s and notes that a Judicial Review into this policy is planned for June 2019.
There may be some eye rolling when people see there is another debate on changes to the state pension age for women born in the 1950s in the House of Commons.
The reason why there have been so many debates in Parliament is because nothing has changed.
Women who have paid in to the system, often for a very long time, have had the goalposts moved. The retirement age for women has been changed from 60 to 67. Plans to retire at 60 have had to be shelved in order to carry on working for another 6 years in some cases.
Many of these women are experiencing real hardship as a result of the changes that have been brought in, and no action has been forthcoming to alleviate the consequences of these changes. The Government even dared to suggest that women should take up apprenticeships and retrain in order to work until their pensionable age. The sheer thought of that makes many people balk and displays the lack of empathy and understanding the Tories have with the entire situation.
The decision to change the state pension age has now been referred to the High Court for a Judicial Review, which is planned to take place in early June, this year.
As an MP, I didn’t know where to go next. So, I decided to ask the Leader of the House for clarification on the ambiguity around the issue now that there was a legal challenge in the High Court. I asked if she could advise Parliamentarians how they could continue to discuss and make representations in the House on behalf of their constituents, and more importantly if the Government would respond on this very important issue. The response was positive, and I was told to apply for an adjournment debate, and that is exactly what I did.
Many of the women whose lives have been hit the hardest are really struggling and I just couldn’t in all conscience just sit on my hands and not do anything until the judicial review.
There are different issues that are faced by women hit by these changes, and there are a number of different movements that represent these differing campaigns, WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) being the most recognised amongst the campaigns who are directing their complaints about maladministration to the Parliamentary Ombudsman rather than following the route of a judicial review.
I don’t want to let the Government off the hook, this is not just about one campaign, this is not just about 1950’s women, because many born in the early 1960’s will also be impacted by these changes, and further recent changes to pension credit rules that will put further strain on lower paid women.
For me, this is about the women in Gower, and across the UK who are struggling to survive even after paying in their fair share of taxes, and contributing to society by being mothers, grandmothers and carers.
The Government continues to reject calls to compensate these women. I know that the best work in Parliament is not always seen in the chamber or recorded in Hansard, it’s the behind the scenes work. My good friend and colleague Carolyn Harris the MP for Swansea East has worked tirelessly for the 1950’s women, and she co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group with Tim Loughton MP. Carolyn is bringing a new Private Members Bill to alleviate the hardship caused to 1950s born women who have seen their pension ages increased. In the meantime, I hope that this adjournment debate will keep the debate alive.
Tonia Antoniazzi is the Labour MP for Gower and a member of the Women and Equalities Committee.