Women battling against increases in the state pension age won't succeed in forcing a compromise, the new pensions minister has vowed - but campaigners say they're determined to fight on.
Changes in the pension age mean women born in the 1950s will have to wait longer than expected to receive their state pensions, and many say they weren't given enough notice to prepare, or weren't notified at all.
Campaigning group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) was formed to demand transitional arrangements including a 'bridging pension' for those caught out by the changes.
When questioned about WASPI's high-profile campaign, the recently appointed pensions minister Richard Harrington MP told the Telegraph: "I'd like to make it very clear that the Government will be making no further changes in this field."
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) today confirmed the no-compromise policy, with a spokesperson telling MoneySavingExpert.com the minister's comments about WASPI were "unequivocal" and insisting no further statement would be issued.
The department wouldn't comment on whether Harrington would engage with WASPI in future.
However, WASPI issued a defiant tweet stating: "So, the #WASPI fight continues". It later tweeted:
WASPI spokeswoman Jane Cowley told us the minister's comments had "galvanised women into wanting to fight on," adding, "It's very much not the end of the road."
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.
WASPI organised a petition calling for the Government to compromise on the issue, which was backed by MSE, and attracted almost 200,000 signatories. The group maintains that women affected by the changes haven't been left with much time to make alternative plans and that existing retirement plans have been "shattered with devastating consequences".
However, the DWP 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, 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).
What's the background to the minister's comments?
Changes to the state pension age have sparked widespread discussion in recent years.
A Parliamentary debate stemming from the WASPI petition was held in January, but appears to have had no effect on Government policy.
Baroness Altmann, Harrington's predecessor as pensions minister, attacked the Government's state pension changes in her resignation letter in July, stating: "I am not convinced the Government adequately addressed the hardship facing women who have had their state pension age increased at relatively short notice."