Pension dilemma in the era of ‘working until you drop’

Ros Altmann
Ros Altmann

There are many disillusioned women out there who feel they’ve got a raw deal with this Conservative government.

These are women born since April 6, 1951, a generation who, having now reached their 60’s, are discovering they can’t retire at 60 because the state has been adding years to the retirement age.

Sandra Chapman

Sandra Chapman

The inexorable rise of the state pension age is proving a difficult pill to swallow for the women who were not given time to prepare themselves financially or emotionally for the upheaval.

In fact it has given birth to a pressure group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASP) whose campaign for financial help for women now facing more years of work was granted a Parliamentary Debate last week.

Some of the group have taken out their frustrations on Baroness Ros Altman, pensions minister via Facebook and Twitter who they say backed their claims when she was director general of Saga but, allegedly, backtracked when she took up ministerial office.

Baroness Altman appears to think these women want ‘special treatment’ and has suggested their demands are ``utterly unreasonable’’ because the pension change simply brings women into line with men whose retirement age was 65.

It too is rising. She says it would cost £2 billion to give into this group of women She believes WASP’s campaign is ``actually advocating inequality’’.

By the time my first child was born in 1973 women, many of whom chose to return to work after childbirth, were still fighting for equality in the workplace. Undoubtedly men, then, were earning more for doing the same or similar work to women.

It was unfair but it was often thrown up at women that they could retire five years earlier than men. Was that not unfair I was once asked by a big, brawny journalist? At the time I thought he was partly right. Yet I could foresee a day when the pension ages would be equalled but not in a million years did I think it would be upwards and not downward. Baroness Altman asks today why these women think they are a special case.

It’s not abnormal for politicians to be mystified by the problems of us lesser mortals protected as they are by their generous salaries and pensions not to mention their expenses.

They enjoy fame and travel opportunities existing in a bubble of protectionism they feel is theirs by right.

They wouldn’t dream of retiring early and certainly don’t understand what it’s like to have worked all your life believing you could collect your state pension at 60 only to have it snatched away for years.

We’re a member of the European Union – for now at least – and each year it’s getting costlier to keep this particular gravy train on track. Apparently a fleet of private ‘air taxis’ are required for the hierarchy of the European Commission to do their business around the world.

It’s costing millions to keep this show on the road. So any working woman who thinks there will be an about turn on the age at which she can retire can think again. All our taxes are helping pay for this nonsense in Europe.

The government tells us we are living longer and will have to work longer before collecting a state pension. The ultimate pension age could be 70 for both sexes.

By which time, of course, they’ll be needing many more acres for the graveyards which could well be needed.