Bri­tish women protest as their pen­sion age rises to meet men’s

Cyprus Today - - UK -

BRI­TISH women are los­ing out due to a gen­der pen­sion gap, a for­mer gov­ern­ment pen­sions sec­re­tary said on Tues­day, as the age they can claim the state pen­sion rose to 65 to match that of men for the first time.

The gov­ern­ment is ac­cused of fail­ing to give women enough warn­ing of the steep rise in the state pen­sion age, which ex­perts say leaves women poorer than men be­cause it am­pli­fies the ef­fect of lower life­time earn­ings.

“We have equal­ity of pen­sion ages but cer­tainly don’t have pen­sion gen­der equal­ity,” said Baroness Ros Alt­mann, a for­mer pen­sions sec­re­tary with Bri­tain’s rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive party.

“Women have lower state pen­sions than men and much lower pri­vate pen­sions too. The gov­ern­ment needs to pro­tect women bet­ter, es­pe­cially in the state pen­sion.”

The gov­ern­ment said means-tested sup­port was avail­able for those strug­gling to man­age.

“The de­ci­sion to equalise the state pen­sion age be­tween men and women was made more than 20 years ago and achieves a long-over­due move to­wards gen­der equal­ity,” said a spokesman for the De­part­ment for Work and Pen­sions. In the past, Bri­tish women were able to claim their pen­sion at age 60, while men had to wait un­til they were 65 but the gov­ern­ment has moved to grad­u­ally equalise their po­si­tions.

The over­all pen­sion age for both sexes is also due to rise to age 68 by the mid-2030s to off­set longer life­spans.

A de­ci­sion was first made in 1995 to lift the women’s pen­sion age by 2020 but cam­paign group Women Against State Pen­sion In­equal­ity (Waspi) says many women were not in­formed for more than a decade af­ter­wards.

The gov­ern­ment then de­cided to speed up the process in 2011.

The changes par­tic­u­larly af­fected about 3.8 mil­lion women born in the 1950s who were ap­proach­ing their pen­sion age as the changes took place, said Waspi.

Some will have to work six years ex­tra, it said.

“For some women it’s ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing. We are an­gry that we have been treated this way hav­ing gone through our lives do­ing what was ex­pected of us. A word we of­ten hear is ‘be­trayed’,” said Deb­bie de Spon, a spokes­woman for Waspi.

Waspi is call­ing for a lower bridg­ing pen­sion for women born in the 1950s dur­ing the ex­tra years they have to work or com­pen­sa­tion for those who have reached pen­sion age but have suf­fered as a re­sult of the way the changes were in­tro­duced. Ex­perts said the move will leave women worse off than men be­cause they usu­ally have less saved for re­tire­ment.

A study car­ried out by pen­sions and as­set man­age­ment firm Ae­gon last De­cem­ber found that at age 50 women have an av­er­age pen­sion fund of £56,000, half that of men.

The firm’s di­rec­tor Steven Cameron said it was “hard to ar­gue against equal­is­ing state pen­sion ages” but there was no doubt it left older women at a dis­ad­van­tage to men.

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