Tory Minister quit over Government changes to women’s state pension age

Baroness Ros Altmann quit because her efforts to improve pensions policy were thwarted by "short term political considerations".

Former Minister of State for Pensions, Baroness Ros Altmann CBE. Photo: Number 10/Flickr. Crown Copyright.

Former pensions minister, Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, quit because her efforts to improve pensions policy were thwarted by “short term political considerations”, it emerged over the weekend, whilst urging Prime Minister Theresa May “to address some of the major policy reforms that are needed to improve pensions for the future”.

In a scathing indictment of David Cameron, Ros Altmann writes in a letter to PM Theresa May: “I am not convinced the Government adequately addressed the hardship facing women who have had their state pension age increased at relatively short notice”.

The government announced changes to women’s state pension age six years ago, which will see the state pension age for women increase to 66 by October 2020. It has been reported that women born in the 1950’s are set to lose thousands of pounds, with critics accusing the government of failing to properly notify women about the changes.

“They were not adequately informed”, says Ros Altmann.

“I also believe we must devote resource to widely communicating and publicising the coming changes to state pension age for both men and women”.

The pensions expert, who has campaigned “to force Government to restore lost pensions to 140,000 victims of the company pensions scandal“, also called for a “major review of Defined Benefit pension scheme funding and affordability”.

“We must urgently assess the future of our Defined Benefit pension schemes”, she said.

“Given the risks of diverting corporate resources to one favoured group of workers, the need to ensure adequate resources for younger generations’ pensions, the time is right to properly consider the issues facing employers trying to support Defined Benefit pension schemes and potential use of pension assets to boost economic growth.”

Altmann also blasted “long overdue reform of pension tax relief”, currently costing the UK over £40bn a year, which she claims “favours the highest earners disproportionately, while leaving lower earners seriously disadvantaged”.

“We need a radical overhaul of incentives, which can offer more generous help than basic rate tax relief, but as a straightforward Government pension contribution for all, and would end the discrimination against Britain’s lowest earners who are forced to pay at least 20 per cent more for their pension than higher paid workers.

“This ‘one nation’ pension would see withdrawals taxed in later life, so that people have a behavioural incentive not to spend the money too soon.”

Ending her letter, Altmann says she remains “deeply committed to helping our great country make better pensions policy for the British people and to planning ahead for the long-term future of our ageing population”.

The letter in full:

Baroness Ros Altmann’s letter to Theresa May, 15 July 2016 by Steven Preece on Scribd

This article was last edited at 15:45 on 18 July 2016.