You will be aware that in 2011, your predecessor made changes to the state pension entitlement for a group of women born in the 1950s. The IFS have recently estimated that this means an average household income of women aged 60-62 is £32 per week lower as a result.
Women born in the 1950s began their working life at a time when gender discrimination was legal, married women were routinely turfed out of the work force, and when maternity rights were non-existent. These women have now been punished again, just as they have reached retirement age. This is not just a question of material deprivation. The short notice given in 2011 represents a breach of trust in the government, and an injustice to women who have fought for fairness all their lives.
This breach of trust is problematic for two reasons.
First the public will lose trust in pensions if such changes, done at short notice, are allowed to stand. But secondly, there is the problem of fairness to those who have worked hard to change women’s place in British society. Women of my generation have stood a platform built by women in the 1950s. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and it is because of that debt I write to you now.
I am asking you to consider establishing a non-partisan commission investigating how this injustice can be remedied. Millions of women are affected, all with unique circumstances. They have been treated from both a financial and administrative point of view. A substantial consideration of the facts is required, leading to policy proposals on how to remedy the injustice caused by the 2011 changes.
Your Autumn Budget would be the perfect opportunity to announce such a commission. It could then report in the spring, in time for consultation on the proposals ahead of next year’s budget.
I would be grateful for your consideration and reply on these points.
With kindest regards
Alison McGovern MP