Harlow Council passes motion calling for fair transitional pension arrangements for women affected by changes to the state pension age

At last Thursday’s (November 1) Full Council meeting, a motion was passed calling upon Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Government, to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1950.

An estimated 3.9m UK women are affected by the changes to state pension arrangements and as many as 4,900 of them are Harlow residents.

Portfolio Holder for Equalities and Diversity, Labour Cllr Lanie Shears who proposed the motion stressed that it was not criticizing the equalization of the state pension age for men and women but rather the way in which the changes were being introduced and the lack of recognition of the financial hardship being unfairly borne by a small, vulnerable section of the population.

The motion was vigorously debated by both sides of the Chamber with all Labour members voting in support of the motion and all Conservative members abstaining.

Numerous real life stories of residents facing unexpected hardship were shared by Labour members who said it was important that these stories were heard and acknowledged in the Chamber.

Speaking after the meeting, Labour Leader Mark Ingall said, “If it weren’t such an important issue affecting the lives of so many of our residents, I would almost feel sorry for our Tory counterparts who were forced to defend their government in the debate but were unable to support their own government’s policy when it came to the vote.

“With less than one week to go until important Council by-elections (Thursday November 8), this clearly demonstrates how important it is that we maintain Labour’s majority in the Council.

“We will fight tirelessly for the rights of all our vulnerable residents.”

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Laura McAlpine said, “There are women living in Harlow who started working at 15 and who have continued to work while bringing up families and caring for elderly relatives. They have paid their National Insurance all those long hard years in good faith. Neither the Labour Party nor these women dispute the equalization of women’s and men’s pension ages. What we do dispute is the treatment they are receiving by this Tory government; It is harsh, and it is unfair.

“I fully support the aims of the All Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women which aims to secure a transitional payment every week for women affected and in some cases tax credits. Hopefully the Private Members’ Bill on Pensions (Review of Women’s Arrangements Review) will be voted through over the coming weeks and the many women and their families affected will be given the security they deserve.”

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