Hands off our pensions
The CWU, Age UK and other trade unions will be campaigning against the UK government's proposal to increase the state pension age. The changes will mean 4.9 million people will have to wait longer to get their pension - with 500,000 women aged 56-57 having to work more than an extra year, and 33,000 working for exactly two years longer.
The CWU also campaigns against the government's decision to weaken both state and occupational pension schemes by using the RPI calculation instead of the CPI calculation for pension schemes. Show your support by signing the online petition and circulate as widely as possible to encourage CWU members and their families to support this campaign and force a parliamentary debate on the issue.
The coalition government have gone back on their promise in the Coalition Agreement, and are delaying the state pension for thousands of women who are in their 50s at the moment. It will mean that when they come to retire in their 60s, thousands will have to work for up to two years longer.
The main political parties recognise that the state pension age should be increased. Average life expectancy is increasing for men and women of all backgrounds, and to afford decent pensions in retirement and to ensure the costs are manageable, change is needed. This principle was established in the 1995 Pensions Act, which set out the timetable for increasing women's state pension age from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020, giving those women affected 15 years to prepare. Following the recommendations of the Turner report on pensions, a timetable was set out for increasing the state pension age for both men and women to 66 by 2026 (and then to 67 by 2036 and 68 by 2046). Again these changes gave men and women the time they needed to prepare.
The government's draft legislation, published a couple of weeks ago, performs a U-turn on their commitment, and accelerates the equalisation timetable to 65 by 2 years, to start in 2016, to be completed by 2018. The state pension age will then start to rise, for men and women, beyond 65 from 2018, reaching 66 by 2020.
The loss in terms of pension income for a woman who has to wait an extra two years is more than £10,000. For the poorest pensioners, those on the full pension credit, the loss is closer to £15,000. Women are already at a significant disadvantage relative to men when it comes to pensions. This generation of women has tended to earn far less during their working lives, they were often prohibited from joining a private pension scheme when they started working (part-time workers were only allowed to join many pension schemes in the 1990s) and have had interrupted careers which gave them less chance to build up a pension outside the state system.
There is an alternative that would address the issue of increasing longevity, but in a fair way: no change before 2020, as the coalition agreement promised, followed by an increase in the state pension age for men and women to 66 between 2020 and 2022. This would affect 1.2 million fewer people than under the new plans, and would affect men and women equally. It would deliver £20bn of savings for the government, but with no-one being put in the unacceptable position of having an increase in state pension age of more than a year, with such little time to prepare.
Read the story of Barbara Bates who, at 56 years has worked every day of her life from the age of 15, apart from a few years when she stayed at home to care for her disabled husband until his death in 2003. Last week Barbara discovered that the government have moved the goalposts and now she will have to possibly work for an additional two years, until the age of 66, as opposed to age 64 which she had planned for.
We would love to hear your story about how these changes will affect you. Complete the form below to share your experience with us. Please note that your comments may be published on the CWU website but in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998), your contact information will be withheld in confidence.