UK Pension Equalization Angers British Women, Ex-Minister

Activist groups, Altmann disregard Parliament’s ‘gender equality’ measure.

The pension age for women in the UK has risen in-line with men, and a lot of Brits are not happy about it.

As of Tuesday, UK women will now have to wait until age 65 to collect their retirement benefits, equal to their male counterparts. The eligibility age will again rise in October 2020, to 66, and again to 67 between 2026 and 2028. Parliament is also considering increasing the age to 68 by 2039, as suggested by a study group. 

Women could previously retire at age 60.

Plans to equalize the benefits age have been around since 1995, and measures in 2011 accelerated the bump, but letters concerning the changes were mailed very late to recipients both times.

In addition to longevity, the government has insisted the move is also a step toward gender equality, but thousands of protesters and activist groups such as the Women’s Equality Party and the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) aren’t buying it.

“These changes to the state pension age for women were cynical exercises by both a Tory and a coalition government to raise £30bn from 3.8 million women,” Sophie Walker, the Women’s Equality Party leader, told the Guardian at a protest march to Parliament last month.

“Many of these women didn’t find out about the pension changes until they literally went to get their pension or finally got sent an official letter 16 years after the change had been made, leaving them with no time to make alternative financial arrangements,” she said.

The increase in pension age requirements have not only angered many British women, but politicians as well.

In a blog post, Ros Altmann, a former minister of the state department for work and pensions, wrote about how the change will do more harm than good.

“Equal pension ages but not pension equality: Women have always had lower pensions than men, leaving them at greater risk of later life poverty, especially as women tend to live longer than men,” she wrote. “An increasing proportion of women are single and cannot rely on a partner’s pension for retirement income.”

The average life expectancy for people in the UK is about 80.1 years, according to the World Bank.

“The decision to equalize the State Pension age between men and women was made over 20 years ago and achieves a long-overdue move towards gender equality,” a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson told iNews. “As we are all living considerably longer than when pensions were introduced, we need to adjust the pension age to ensure the sustainability of the state pension now and for future generations.”

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