I’m following the Labour Party conference this year with interest to see what thinking is emerging regarding tax, spending and state benefits and pick out the things that might perhaps impact on our clients.
Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Debbie Abrahams spoke yesterday and this is what she said;
“We promised in our Manifesto to provide pension credit and additional support to the two and a half million 1950s women still waiting to retire. As a starter, I can announce today that a Labour Government in power now would allow these women to retire up to two years early”
Quite a vote winner you would think. There is no doubt that women in this age bracket feel cheated out of something they had always imagined they would receive and for those completely reliant on state benefits these are difficult times. But let’s just unpick what Abrahams has said; up to 2 years early is not defined and there is little meat on the bones. Many of the women in question will already have retired by the time of the next election, if indeed Labour can make it to number ten. The time it takes to pass a bill and arrange the administration of such a complex initiative would mean the whole thing would be irrelevant.
The pressure group WASPI, representing the affected women did not agree anything short of full reinstatement would be acceptable so it will be interesting to see if they think this halfway measure is palatable.
Sir Steve Webb former Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister under the coalition government, pointed out the flaws in the Labour manifesto in May this year before the general election when a drop in the pension age was mooted.
"The cost of cancelling planned state pension age increases is astronomical. These are eye-watering sums of money which would either have to be found from somewhere or added to the national debt. As we live longer, it is inevitable that state pension ages will have to rise, as they are around the developed world. It is unrealistic to suppose that as a nation we can afford to ignore the fact that we are all living longer."
He also makes the argument that having different retirement ages for men and women does not fit with equalities legislation, meaning this promise would also have to apply to men!