Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances in my constituency I can no longer attend the Westminster Hall debate relating to the transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s. As I will no longer have the opportunity to speak at the debate I wanted to take some time to put down my feelings on the subject and again urge the UK Government to take immediate action.
Earlier in the month a motion brought forward by Mhairi Black MP was passed when the House of Commons voted "to immediately introduce transitional arrangements for those women negatively affected" by pension equalisation. This specifically affects women born in the 1950s who have seen their state pension age increase from 60.
Furthermore, this whole debate is another great example of the Tory Government refusing to take responsibility for legislation that is having severe, detrimental effects on women's lives. Despite winning the vote 158 Ayes to 0 Noes, despite many speaker arguing passionately for their constituents and receiving cross party support, the Government has said it will take no action. It's unfortunate that the UK Government continues to show a complete lack of empathy with those affected, but also an unwillingness to engage with practical recommendations that would help to alleviate the impact of these changes. The UK Government may believe that no policy adjustment is required, but given the momentum behind this campaign I believe that these women deserve more than a simple regurgitation of government policy.
There is plenty that could be done, the SNP has already called on the UK Government to set up an independent commission to investigate how the changes to the state pension will affect both men and women.
All the while this is ongoing my office is continuing to receive letters and emails from women born in the 1950s who are just finding out about the changes to the UK Government's pension plan and its adverse effects. These women have had plans made decades in advance shattered through no fault of their own.
Throughout this debate the Government has failed to make any attempt to address the lifetime of low pay and inequality faced by many women born in the 1950s, these changes are putting this generation at risk of further hardship.
It is crucial to point out that pensions are not benefits, they are contracts which women born in the 1950s entered into aged 17. Contracts that these women have been paying into the entirety of their working life. Essentially the 2011 Pensions Act represents a broken contract.
The decision to introduce transitional arrangements lies in the hands of George Osborne, but I think it is simple, if the UK Governement can find £167 billion to spend on nuclear weapons, I believe that it can find money to support women born in the 1950s. If George Osborne is serious about his leadership aspirations he must take action, attend this debate and find a solution. The Government must stop sitting on their hands and participate in the discussion that has been taking place for some time now. I hope to see a system introduced which is fair and upholds the commitment that was made many years ago to support these women.
Today's debate is due to the hard work of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) who started a petition which calls on the UK Government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s. The last time I checked the petition had amassed over 135,500 signatures and any petition reaching over 100,000 signatures must be heard by parliament. This time the Government must listen!
This post first appeared on www.ronniecowan.com