I’M SO UPSET, IT’S LIKE BEING MUGGED
Suzanna Davey is furious about the increase in the state pension age, which has left her feeling as if she has been ‘mugged’.
Yesterday’s change will not help the 58-year-old, who will still have to wait for an extra six months before getting her pension.
Mrs Davey (right), who lives near Newton Abbot, Devon, has been working for more than 40 years. She works 26 hours a week for an insurance company, and rushes to visit her elderly mother each day after work.
She said: ‘I cannot tell you how upset I am about it. This is theft in my book.
‘It is money that I have earned but the Government is moving the goalposts. I feel like I have been mugged.’
Mrs Davey, who is married and has two sons, aged 21 and 23, said that she is suffering more than most of the women who were in her class at school.
This is because she was born on June 29, 1953 – but no woman who was born before April 6, 1953 is affected.
Mrs Davey, who has never received a penny in state handouts and has no company pension, said: ‘The Government is not listening to women. The men in Government do not understand, but that may be because most of them are millionaires.’
She is particularly resentful of the fact that she has already worked for more than enough years to get a full state pension, but she is still having to pay national insurance.
To get a full state pension, you need to have 30 years of national insurance contributions. Mrs Davey has worked continuously since she was 17.
Under the timetable set by Labour, the pension age was to reach 67 between 2034 and 2036. But Coalition ministers say the ageing population and spiralling pension costs mean this is no longer tenable.
Experts predicted that a higher state pension age of 67 would come into force as soon as the ‘mid-2020s’, though other sources suggested the date would be closer to 2030.
Looking further ahead, the state pension age is likely to rise to 68 – and possibly even to 70 – as ministers consider linking it to rising life expectancy. As a result, women whose own mothers retired at 60 could be working up to a decade longer before finally being able to claim their pension.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions made a concession yesterday to those hardest hit by looming changes to the state pension, mainly women now in their late 50s.
Because Chancellor George Osborne has accelerated the rise in official retirement age to 66, some women were faced with having to wait up to two years longer before receiving their pension.
But under a new amendment to the Pensions Bill, the state pension age will rise to 66 by October 2020 instead of April 2020, six months later than previously planned.
This will cut the maximum amount of additional time anyone has to wait for their pension from two years to 18 months, benefiting 245,000 women born between December 1953 and September 1954.
The delay will apply to both sexes, thereby also helping 240,000 men, and costing £1.1billion.
The announcement is a victory for the Daily Mail, which has highlighted how women in their late-50s will be affected more than any other group by cost-saving rises in the pension age.
At present, a woman can get her state pension when she reaches the age of 60 years and nine months. A man must wait until he is 65. But changes in the pipeline mean the age will reach 65 for both men and women in November 2018 – and under the previous plan, it was to rise again to 66 by April 2020.
Women were to be the biggest losers, with around 2.6million having to wait longer before their state pension begins to be paid. Of that total, around 500,000 would have had to wait more than a year than they expected and 33,000 would have had to wait two years.
There is broad agreement on the need to equalise and raise state pension ages, now that men and women live longer. But MPs on all sides protested it was unfair that one particular group of women would be hit so hard, losing as much as £15,000.
Under yesterday’s compromise, women who would have had to wait between 18 months and two years longer to collect their pension were reprieved.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the move would be funded out of £30billion in savings generated in the next Parliament by raising the state pension age and equalising it for men and women.
‘These changes have to strike the right balance between being fair to women and fair on the next generation that would be burdened with the cost of paying for our longer lives,’ he said.
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who has led the campaign for a U-turn, said: ‘While I welcome the fact that 245,000 women are going to have to wait less than they had feared, I still have very real concerns: the Government should go further.’
Joanne Segars of the National Association of Pension Funds said: ‘A lot of women in their late-50s are still being told to wait another 18 months, and many will struggle to bridge the gap.’
Ministers have already proposed a more generous £140-a-week flat rate pension payment.
Women, who often do not receive a full state pension as a result of taking time out of work to look after children, will be the biggest winners.
Some help for women… but it’s not enough
By Ruth Sunderland
The Government’s concession to women forced to wait years longer than they expected before receiving their state pension is better than nothing, but tens of thousands will still get a rough deal.
For several years, middle-aged women have watched helplessly as their official retirement date moved further and further into the distance.
The goalposts have been shifting since the mid-1990s, when plans were first announced to raise women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020.
Then in 2006, a plan emerged to raise it to 66 in tandem with an increase in the male pension age, by 2026.
And last autumn, Chancellor George Osborne announced a much more aggressive schedule, whereby the female retirement age would rise to 65 by November 2018 and 66 by April 2020.
His accelerated timetable meant 33,000 women born between March 6 and April 5 1954 would have to wait two additional years for their pension, costing them more than £10,000 in anticipated income.
But even after yesterday’s partial climbdown – which reduces that maximum wait from two years to 18 months – women will still be subjected to a birthdate lottery.
For example, a woman born on April 5, 1950, would have received her state pension last year at the age of 60.
But under Mr Osborne’s initial plan, a female friend four years younger, born on April 5, 1954, would have received her pension no less than ten years later at the age of 66. Under the new proposal, she will receive it nine years and six months later – better, but not much.
At a time when the national finances are under severe strain, later retirement ages for both sexes are unavoidable.
Taxpayers cannot afford carry on paying indefinitely for women to retire at a younger age than men, when they generally live longer. Raising the female pension age is right in principle – but the mechanics of it can be harsh in practice.
Pension planning is a long-term undertaking that ideally should be carried out over an entire working lifetime.
The female pension age, though, is leaping by nearly six years in a decade, while men’s retirement age is rising by a year over the same timescale.
Many women complain this simply does not leave them enough time to plan.
In theory, they could continue working. However, that is impractical for many either because of their health, or because they are caring for parents or grandchildren.
Others stepped off the career ladder years ago to look after their families and would find it hard to go back into the job market so late in life, especially when more than two and a half million people are already unemployed.
Only around 6 per cent of women over 65 are currently employed outside the home.
Shifting an army of older women into offices, shops and factories while they wait for their state pension will be a major upheaval for employers, families and society.
Offering six months’ grace is a token gesture. It shows that the Government has listened to the thousands of angry and anxious middle-aged women who protested, but not hard enough.
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