Monday, 23 May 2011


I saw this story in the Guardian the other day.  Well, I say that I saw it - more accurately, it was brought to my attention.  I don't really read any dead-tree papers, and stick to the Telegraph about once a week on the interwebs - that's all the news I can take.

Anyway, the story.  A few points struck me as interesting:

Politicians came under siege as hundreds of women gathered at parliament to protest at plans to increase the state pension age more quickly.

The protest, organised by charity AgeUK, coincided with the second reading of the pensions bill, which included a revised timetable for changes to the state pension age.
 Ok, so there are some people campaigning against the changes to the pensions bill.  The country is in a proper black hole right now, as far as debt goes - where do they recommend that we find the money?  No clue - they just don't want to be personally impacted.  I can understand that.

Do any of our elected representatives have a view?

Annette Brooke, who has 1,400 female constituents who will be affected by the proposed changes, spoke against the changes at a debate in Westminster Hall last week.

She said: "Historically women have often suffered injustices in the pensions system. Whenever you have a sharp cut-off date there is an injustice. The proposed reforms will mean that women born between 1953 and 1954 will be caught out. However, it is not too late to have another look at these reforms, to ensure that once again women, and this age group in particular, do not disproportionally lose out. It is not fair to keep moving the goalposts as people get older. 

"We know this is not about a large number of people, so money could be found by the coalition government. We need to know how much it would cost to even out matters. This is an opportunity for the coalition to say, 'We really do care about giving equal treatment to the citizens of this country.'"

Right, so Annette Brook (who coincidentally has a fairly slim majority and more women in her constituency will be affected by this than make up her majority) reckons that women have suffered injustices in the pension system.  Well, I'm not saying that they didn't, 50 years ago, but nowadays things are pretty peachy for them.  In fact, as women live longer than men, any Defined Benefits that they get (such as final salary pensions or the state pension) are worth more to women than they are to men (because they get to draw them for longer).  Add to that the fact that they still have a lower state pension age than men, and we can see things are definitely not equal.

(And incidentally, that's something that annoys me.  The Barber judgement said that all pension schemes had to provide the same benefits to men and women - including giving them the same retirement age - from 17 May 1990.  This Judgement didn't apply to state schemes, for some reason - I want to know why not?)

That last sentence is the craziest - she wants the government to say: "We really do care about giving equal treatment to the citizens of this country."  Surely the best way to do that is to give all the men and women the same retirement age (just as they're planning to do) - hell they could go even further and spend the same on all men and women when they reach retirement age, so that they can buy an annuity - I doubt that Annette would approve of that though, as the women would get less per year than the men...

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