East Devon MP defends Government’s stance on women’s state pension

Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire stock picture - Credit: Archant

East Devon’s MP has defended government-imposed changes to women’s state pensions which have been branded ‘unfair’ by campaigners.

Sidmouth residents Jenny Velterop and Julie Davies spoke out last week about the bid to bring women’s pensionable age into line with men’s – which has seen many people born in the 1950s face a six-year delay.

MP Hugo Swire says that while he understands concerns about the pace of change, the Government has taken measures to mitigate the impact on the worst affected - and alternative arrangements would bring ‘inordinate’ costs to the taxpayer.

Jenny and Julie have both been personally affected by the changes – which saw the age rise firstly from 60 to 63 and then again up to 66 – and last week urged people to join a campaign to make the transitional arrangements fair.

They accused the Government of ‘rushing through’ changes and said many women reported they has not even been informed.

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Responding to concerns this week, MP Hugo Swire said: “Higher life expectancy does mean that as a society we will have to adjust to slightly longer working lives, but it is right to ensure at the same time that people have security and dignity when they do retire.”

He explained this is why a triple-lock system has been applied to the basic state pension, which ensures the amount increases annually – by the growth in average earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent, depending on which is higher.

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Mr Swire said benefits such as winter fuel payments have also been maintained.

He added: “I do understand the concerns surrounding the pace of change, but the Government did adjust its proposals in 2011 to mitigate the impact on those worst affected by the state pension age changes. Further changes could complicate matters and cost the taxpayer an inordinate amount of money.”

The MP is holding a meeting today (Friday) with a number of constituents who have voiced concern.

A petition started by campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has received more than 132,000 signatures and a second parliamentary debate on the subject will take place on Monday, February 1.

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