Compensating women for the rise in the state pension age is nothing more than ill-thought-out electioneeringby Norma Cohen / November 29, 2019 / Leave a comment
Earlier this week, the Labour Party rolled out what might be described as its most stunning pre-election promise to date; that it would provide compensation to women who have seen their state pension age rise to equal that of men. Its estimated price tag is a whopping £58bn.
While Labour had previously expressed general support for a very vocal group of women who felt wronged by the rise in their state pension age, the latest promise is most explicit. Costings were not included in its manifesto.
However, where Labour is much less clear is in describing the problem this enormous cash windfall is intended to address. Nor is it obvious, despite complaints from two vocal groups of campaigners, that there is any widespread political support for Labour’s plan to address it.
Campaigners generally belong to one of two groups. The first of these is Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi), which wants those who are having to wait to up to age 66 to draw a pension to receive the full amount they would have drawn as a compensation payment. The second group, BackTo60 (BT60) wants compensation paid and the increases in pension age reversed. That group brought a case against the Department for Work and Pensions to the High Court, which was dismissed on all counts earlier this year. The DWP estimates that meeting that demand would cost £181bn.
In announcing the aid, John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, described parliament’s 1995 Act to gradually raise women’s state pension ages to 65 from 60, in line with those of men, as an “historic wrong.” The increases began in April 2010. The intention to raise women’s pension age had first been announced in 1993 and had been debated since the 1980s. Roughly a quarter century has now passed since the plan was first unveiled. In explaining the move, McDonnell said that women had “insufficient time to prepare for it.” Some, he went on to say, suffered poverty as a result.
There were very good reasons to raise women’s state pension ages, aside from gender equality. Women are living far longer past their 60th birthdays than they did in 1940, when the age was cut from 65. The English Life Tables, measures now published every ten…