Pension protest at House of Commons

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and campaigners lobbying parliament about the raising of the state pension age.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and campaigners lobbying parliament about the raising of the state pension age.

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EIGHT thousand women in Leeds will have to wait at least a year longer than they expected to receive their state pension if controversial proposals get the go-ahead.

That was the claim from campaigners as they descended on Parliament this week to oppose the plans contained in the Pensions Bill.

The women – backed by Age UK and led by Leeds West MP and Shadow Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves – presented a 10,000 name petition to Downing Street.

Ms Reeves also raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Outside Parliament, she called on David Cameron to re-think the “unfair changes”, and urged him not to “move the goalposts”.

The Pensions Bill will change the state pension age for almost five million people in the UK.

Women’s state pension age is already increasing from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020, so that both men and women will get their pensions at the same age.

The state pension age for both groups is then set to rise from 65 to 66 between 2024 and 2026.

However, under the latest proposals in the Pensions Bill, the gender equalisation will be speeded up, so that the state pension age for women reaches 65 by 2018, two years earlier than the original 2020 date.

The Government is also proposing to increase both men and women’s state-pension ages to 66 between 2018 and 2020 – much more quickly than planned.

Helen Longfield, from Morley, who was among the campaigners this week, said: “I was due to receive my state pension just a week apart from my husband, but now the difference will be two years. This has changed our plans for retirement at short notice and I think the change is unfair on women in my age group.”

Ms Reeves, who says 8,000 women in Leeds will be affected by the changes, said: “The Government is unfairly targeting women with this sudden rise in the state pension age, leaving them little time to plan. If these plans become law, they will leave women with little time to prepare for their retirement – and many of them are not in a position to rely on occupational pensions savings.”

Fifteen Liberal Democrat MPs have already publicly opposed the plans, which are due to be put to the vote in the Commons.

Ms Reeves quizzed Mr Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, asking him: “Why the U-turn? The coalition agreement says that there will be no increase in women’s state pension age before 2020, yet under the Pensions Bill that increase will start in 2018.”

The Prime Minister replied the reform was about linking pensions back to earnings and was “important for making sure that our pensions system is affordable and sustainable...for the long term”.

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