Labour councillors at Staffordshire County Council were hoping to get support for women disadvantaged by changes in the State Pension Age – but have been voted down by the controlling Conservative Group.
Women have been given as little as one year’s notice of up to a six year increase to their State Pension Age (SPA). This shocking fact was revealed to Staffordshire County Councillors during the debate at the 13th October Council meeting on a Labour motion calling on the Government to reconsider the inadequate transitional pension arrangements for women born on or after 6 April 1951.
Labour councillors have called on the Government to take action to save several hundred thousand women born in the 1950′s from severe hardship after they had their retirement plans shattered. From the 1940′s until April 2010, the SPA was 60 for women and 65 for men. An increase in the SPA for women to 65, phased in between April 2010 and 2020, was included in the Pensions Act 1995. But in 2011 the Conservative led Coalition Government pushed through a speeding up of this timetable so that women’s SPA will instead increase to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018 followed by a further increase to 66 by October 2020. However, women were not notified of these changes leaving no time for them to make plans for the future.
No support from the Tories for Staffordshire women caught out by their government.
Cllr Sheree Peaple, moving the motion to Council said: “Women through no fault of their own are facing a future of poverty because of an accident of their date of birth. They have to wait several years longer to get their state pension. Already disadvantaged by pay inequality or because they stayed at home to look after children rather than work, these women were given little or no warning of these changes to their SPA.”
Cllr Sue Woodward, Leader of the Opposition and Labour Group, said: “We were simply asking the Council to support women across the County who find themselves hugely disadvantaged by the pension changes, without having been told about the changes early enough. Many Councils have given their support to the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, including Conservative Councils, so I was shocked and disappointed that the controlling group voted this down.
Frankly, they showed contempt for the issue and the women affected, as well as their family and friends. They had clearly failed to do their homework on the subject, showed minimal understanding of it and its impacts.”
This week, On Tuesday 11 October 2016, 198 public petitions were presented and read in the Chamber by 87 MPs, representing 198 constituencies. There are over 100 WASPI campaign groups across the UK, including in Staffordshire.
Cllr Woodward added: “There is a now groundswell of cross-party support across the country for the WASPI campaign but, sadly, the Tories at the County Council put themselves on the wrong side of a subject which is close to the heart of many Staffordshire residents.”
21st Century – not welcome here!
Watch Conservative members David Brookes (2:21 minutes in) and John Francis (2:32 minutes in) and see if you can work out which century they are from on the webcast here! And remember this is a council that thinks it is really the House of Commons with its “Select Committees” instead of Scrutiny Committees and references by the Chairman to “This side of the House” instead of the Council Chamber.
Oh and the controlling group doesn’t think they should be called “Councillors” in the Council Chamber (!) as it demeans them – but Mr or Mrs.