Labour has today outlined their plans to help end the plight of the hundreds of thousands of women abandoned to live in poverty by the Tory Government’s changes to their state pension age.
This would alleviate the worst of the impacts for the most vulnerable women, and restore some of the dignity many of them feel they have been robbed of. It would provide support worth up to £155 per week to half a million of the most vulnerable WASPI women.
One woman, a 61 year old now having to live with a friend, told WASPI campaigners how she receives just £8 a week from a private pension and is worried how she will afford basics such as dental treatment.
The Government accepted that she is not fit for work, while also saying she isn’t eligible for ESA. She had to walk to the job centre every day, even in the snow with her walking stick. She was let down in the last Parliament, and now this Government is letting her down again.
The Government’s changes have affected women who would normally have retired earlier under the 1995 Pensions Act. Labour plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women, ensuring that they are not forced into the Government’s punitive social security regime.
The Labour Party is calling on the Government to implement these plans in the Autumn Statement, to give vulnerable women in our country some stability until their delayed state pension is available. The concession would operate for affected women up to 2022.
Labour are also developing solutions for those affected who would not be entitled to means-tested Pension Credit under these proposals. It is however vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.
Sadly the Pensions Minister has issued a point blank refusal to do anything to alleviate the worse cases – claiming that the current social security system was sufficient to meet the needs of everyone. Labour are now acting where the government has refused.
Debbie Abrahams MP Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “The Government has completely failed to act to address the plight of these older women.
“That’s why Labour are today committing to the extension of Pension Credit to support the vulnerable women affected by the Government’s chaotic approach to the state pension.
“We call on the Government to address the concerns that are being raised by thousands of women up and down the country by implementing our proposals. They must follow Labour’s lead and act immediately to minimise any further hardship.”