Women to wait longer for pensions


Women to wait longer for pensions

By Frank Noakes

LONDON — A committee set up by the government has recommended that women wait five years longer to receive their state pensions.

The Social Security Advisory Committee proposes that the eligible age for women, now 60, be raised to that of men, 65.

The decision comes in the wake of a European Court ruling that occupational pensions must not discriminate between men and women.

Trade unions and the Equal Opportunities Commission have argued that the retirement age should be levelled downwards to 60.

With more than a little deceit, the SSAC argues — with the press nodding in agreement, not to mention winking in collusion — that the £3 billion savings will not be pocketed by the government. No. They will be passed on to the most needy, they say.

The committee's chair, Sir Peter Barclay, admits that there can be no guarantee that the government will pass the savings on to the poor. But government would be under such moral pressure that it would have no choice but to live up to its promises.

The change will be phased in over 15 years, so that people currently over 52 won't be affected.

Only 33% of women receive an occupational pension, partially funded by an employer, compared to about 75% of men. This means that women tend to be poorer in old age. But making all women wait longer for their pensions won't solve that.

Stretching credibility to the point of no return, Confederation of British Industry director-general Howard Davies tries the pro-women's rights tack, saying: "Moving to a joint age of 65 would end a wartime anomaly that was mainly designed to remove women from the labour market on the premise that they should be at home when their husbands retired. That sort of thinking is out of place today." Women in Britain, as elsewhere, still do not enjoy equal wages with men. Davies did not mention scrapping that anomaly.

The press point to a European-wide trend towards raising the eligible age for pension recipients. However, France has defied the trend, recently equalising down to 60 the age for pensioners.

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