Baroness Ros Altmann has said that women who were expecting to get their pension at 60, ‘now have nothing to live on’, as from Tuesday women in the UK begin to qualify for their state pensions at the same age as men – which is currently 65.
The move to equalise pensions began 25 years ago, but the Government has been criticised as some women remained unaware of the change.
Baroness Altmann told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “I have always been in favour of a more flexible approach where there could be a band of ages.
“If you have made a contribution for a certain number of years, you can at least get a reduced amount but at least that will help tide you over while you can’t work.
“The women born in 1953 to 1954 have suffered the biggest increase and if they didn’t know about it the biggest shock.”
The campaign group Women Against State Pension Age Inequality said they would continue to gain compensation for those who were unaware that their state pension age was going to increase.
The changes are estimated to have saved the Treasury at least £30bn.
Women 'were not given a fair chance'
Baroness Altmann said that women were not “given a fair chance” to prepare for the change.
“Women have grown up believing that they are going to get their state pension at 60 but the Government actually changed the law in 1995,” she said.
“But sadly, many of the women were never told of this pension change had occurred.
“So they found to their great horror at age 59 or so expecting to get their pension that it wasn’t coming.
“Many women don’t have a private pension, certainly a lot less than men.
“Although I agree with you that equal pension age does make sense in theory, in practice the situation has developed that women were not given a fair chance to prepare for this change.
“Nevertheless that is where we are now, and women are still working and want to keep working but in terms of pensions, women are very much the poor relation across the nation.”
They 'have nothing to live on'
Figures show that in 2017 the average woman's state pension was worth £126 a week. This is compared to the average man's at £154.
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Baroness Altmann also felt that women “fall through” cracks in the system more than men.
“I think there are two issues here; one, I have always been in favour of helping those women who are facing hardship as a result of this,” she said.
“I think there are genuinely women who had no idea this was coming who made plans based on the assumption that they would get their pension at 60 and now have nothing to live on.
“That kind of hardship is not fair in our system.
“The second issue is that even in today’s state pension system, and certainly in the private pension system, women lose out because many of the loopholes in the state pension seem to be cracks women fall through not men.”