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Increases in the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s

Published Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Briefing regarding the impact of legislation increasing the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s

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The Pensions Act 1995 provided for the State Pension age (SPA) for women to increase from 60 to 65 over the period April 2010 to 2020. The Coalition Government legislated in the Pensions Act 2011 to accelerate the latter part of this timetable, so that women’s SPA will now reach 65 in November 2018. The reason was increases in life expectancy since the timetable was last revised. It had initially intended that the equalised SPA would then rise to 66 by April 2020 (Cm 7956, November 2010, Foreword). However, because of concerns expressed about the impact on women born in March 1954 - who would see their SPA increase by as much as two years as a result – the Government made a concession which effectively limited the maximum increase under the Act at 18 months compared to the timetable in existing legislation, at a cost to the Exchequer of £1.1 bn - see Library Briefing Paper, SN 06082 Pensions Bill 2011 – final stages (Nov 2011).

Some women born in the 1950s argue they have been hit particularly hard, with significant changes to their SPA imposed with a lack of appropriate notification. The campaign Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is calling for “fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women” (see section 4.1 below).

The Work and Pensions Select Committee, which looked at the issue, concluded that “more could and should have been done” to communicate the changes, especially between 1995 and 2009.  (Communication of State Pension age changes, HC 899, March 2016, Summary). It called on the Government to “explore the option of permitting a defined group of women who have been affected by state pension age changes to take early retirement, from a specified age, on an "actuarially neutral basis”.  On 18 March, it launched a further inquiry to explore this further. This has not yet reported.

The issue has been debated in Parliament on a number of occasions and an all Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women  has been set up to “hold the government to account on the issue of transitional arrangements to compensate 1950s women who are affected by changes to the state pension age and to campaign on issues around the state pension age.”

The Government argues that the changes in the 2011 Act were debated at length and a clear decision made by Parliament (as part of which a concession was made to limit the impact on those most affected). It has “no plans to bring forward further concessions or changes” (see, for example, HC Deb 9 May 2016 c367-8).

More information can be found in the following Library Briefing Papers:

A separate table below shows how the State Pension age has changed for women with different dates of birth.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7405

Author: Djuna Thurley

Topic: Pensions

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