Pen­sion changes will have im­pact

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews - Clare Haughey MSP FOR RUTHER­GLEN

How can Scots look to plan for re­tire­ment?

The West­min­ster gov­ern­ment has again raised the pen­sion age with­out fair warn­ing, with an es­ti­mated half a mil­lion peo­ple in Scot­land af­fected.

Those born be­tween 1970 and 1978 will see their re­tire­ment age put back a year later – from 67 to 68. The re­tire­ment age was due to be in­creased, but has been brought in seven years ear­lier than planned, ad­versely af­fect­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of our fel­low Scots.

With changes to the state re­tire­ment age dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect­ing those with­out a pri­vate pen­sion, this is just the lat­est at­tempt by the Tory gov­ern­ment to bal­ance the books on the backs of those on lower in­comes. And again, be­cause of Scot­land’s lower life ex­pectancy, this in­crease pun­ishes those north of the border more than the rest of the UK.

In fact, on av­er­age, Scot­tish re­tirees will re­ceive their pen­sion for four fewer years than the UK av­er­age, so any in­crease in the pen­sion has a much greater im­pact here than else­where. If it is not bad enough that Scots die ear­lier, they are also see­ing less and less of their re­tire­ment too as the goal­posts shift.

This is just the lat­est as­sault on peo­ple’s re­tire­ment plans, with the Tories at West­min­ster al­ready chang­ing the women’s’ pen­sion­able age with­out suit­able warn­ing. The WASPI women have fought long and hard for a fair set­tle­ment that saw their re­tire­ment age change dras­ti­cally, and with­out warn­ing in a way that is very sim­i­lar to this lat­est change in UK re­tire­ment age.

And, the Con­ser­va­tive man­i­festo at the last general elec­tion promised to scrap the triple-lock guar­an­tee on pen­sions. This means that from 2020 on­wards, the state pen­sion will not rise at the same rate, meaning po­ten­tially lower pen­sions for re­tirees.

How can Scots look to plan for their re­tire­ment when the value of the pen­sion is drop­ping and the re­tire­ment age is mov­ing fur­ther off into the dis­tance with ev­ery pass­ing year?

An­other is­sue that af­fects thou­sands of work­ers is the im­po­si­tion of em­ploy­ment tri­bunal fees. This hugely un­fair prac­tice has been op­posed by my SNP col­leagues at West­min­ster, and in Scot­land the SNP have com­mit­ted to abol­ish these fees as they dis­cour­age those in dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tions from mak­ing claims about un­fair treat­ment in the work­place.

Thank­fully, the Supreme Court has re­cently agreed with this view, and has ruled such fees un­law­ful. This is a blow to the re­gres­sive pol­icy in­tro­duced by the Con­ser­va­tive and Lib Dem coali­tion, but is a fan­tas­tic development for or­di­nary work­ing peo­ple across the coun­try.

In other good news, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment are fund­ing a pi­lot scheme in Aberdeen to al­le­vi­ate what has come to be known as “pe­riod poverty” where women can­not af­ford san­i­tary prod­ucts be­cause of their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

The pi­lot pro­gramme will look to sup­port a thou­sand women in the Aberdeen­shire area, in­clud­ing young women of school age, who are af­fected by the ben­e­fit cap brought in by the Tory gov­ern­ment in West­min­ster.

The ground­break­ing scheme will see women given a card that en­ti­tles them to free san­i­tary prod­ucts that they can claim from su­per­mar­kets, phar­ma­cies or doc­tor’s surg­eries in the area.

It just shows that we in Scot­land have a dif­fer­ent set of pri­or­i­ties than the West­min­ster gov­ern­ment. We want to pro­tect our pen­sions, en­sure that peo­ple get fair use of a sys­tem that they’ve paid into their whole lives, and we want to pro­tect peo­ple from poverty while they’re of work­ing age too.

Pen­sion changes Clare Haughey MSP at a WASPI event in Glas­gow last year

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