MPS hit out at pension changes

MPS have slammed plans to speed up the rise in age that women can claim their state pension.

The Government wants to raise the pension age for women from 60 to 65 by 2018 before both female and male pension ages rise to 66 in 2020.

The previous Labour Government had agreed to levelling ages by April 2020, but the coalition’s plans will see it done two years earlier.

All four Labour MPs that represent the Mail’s readership area voted against the decision in a Commons vote that the coalition government won by a majority of 70.

MPs voted to give a second reading to the Pensions Bill by 302 votes to 232.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said in principle women and men should work for the same length of time “in an age of equality”, but many women have already made plans and are being forced to change them at the last minute.

It is estimated around 330,000 women born between December 1953 and October 1954 will be forced to work up to two years longer before retiring as a result of the proposals.

He said: “I voted against these plans because I think they are grossly unfair.

“There are women who have worked incredibly hard all their lives, taken time off work to care for a family and are now being told they will have to work longer with no notice.

“In an age of equality, yes I think men and women should be the same, but the way this has been done is simply wrong.

“The way it was being done was a lot fairer.” Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham, who represents Billingham and Wolviston, spoke out against the plans during a debate in the House of Commons, saying he had received a “large number” of letters, emails and phone calls from concerned women in his constituency.

He told the Mail: “People need sufficient time to plan for the increase in the state pension age, and the changes are happening too fast and causing a lot of worry and anger.

“It will be the poorest women who suffer the most as a result of the Government’s plans, those who do not have savings to fall back on and are in low-paid jobs.”

During the debate in the Commons, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith insisted the coalition would not waver from its commitment to equalise the state pension age in 2018.

He told MPs: “Responsible government is not always easy government. It involves commitment, tough decisions and a willingness to stay the course.”

But he said he was “willing to work to get this transition right” amid concerns over the “relatively small number of women” set to be disadvantaged.

Delaying the move to 66 until 2022 would cost the taxpayer £10bn, which would be an “unfair financial burden borne disproportionately by the next generation”, he added.

Easington MP Grahame Morris and Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson were unavailable for comment.