More than 106,000 people have now signed a petition protesting controversial changes to the state pension which will hit hundreds of thousands of women aged 55-65. MPs will decide if the petition should be granted a second parliamentary debate after an existing debate already scheduled for tomorrow (7 January).
The petition, which was last month backed by MoneySavingExpert, calls on the Government to step in and help those born in the 1950s who will have to wait longer than expected to receive their state pension due to rises in the state pension age.
When parliamentary petitions hit 100,000 signatures they are highly likely to be debated in Parliament, though they need to receive the backing of the Petitions Committee, which is made up of 11 backbench MPs from different parties.
However in this case the situation is more complicated. A backbench parliamentary debate has already been scheduled on the issue for this Thursday (7 January), led by the Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black. The Pensions Committee has now said it will consider the petition following this debate and decide whether it requires further debate.
Why will some women lose out under the state pension changes?
There are two separate increases of the state pension age currently underway.
- Under the 1995 Pensions Act, the Government decided the pension ages of men and women would be equalised by 2020. Previously, women retired at 60 and men at 65.
- In 2011 the state pension age for both men and women was raised to 66.
These changes mean women born after 5 April 1950 will receive their state pensions later than expected – in some cases six years later.
Many women who had been expecting to start drawing their state pensions between 2016 and 2020 only found out in 2011 – with the additional change in state pension ages – that they would face a delay.
Some women have argued they weren't informed of the rise in their state pension age at all. The action group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) organised the petition, and claims women affected by the changes haven't been left with much time to make alternative plans. It says existing retirement plans have been "shattered with devastating consequences".
However the Department for Work and Pensions says it did take appropriate steps to notify women of the changes and insists "all women affected have been directly contacted".
Which age brackets are most affected?
The date on which you'll receive your state pension depends on exactly when you were born – the Government has published full state pension age timetables here. But in brief:
- Women born after 5 April 1950 are affected by the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 (following the changes in the 1995 Pensions Act).
- Women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 October 1954 are affected by both the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 and the rise of the state pension age to 66.
- Women born between 6 October 1954 and 5 April 1960 will see their state pension age rise to 66.
- The next rise in the state pension age, to 67, will apply to men and women born after 6 March 1961 (and be phased in for those born between 6 April 1960 and 5 March 1961).
In November last year Sarah Pennells, founder of SavvyWoman.co.uk, warned in a guest comment on MoneySavingExpert.com that many of those affected have been left with little time to try to plug their savings.