Monday, May 16, 2016

Another example of the Sowell principle of equal treatment seen as discrimination ...

I was astonished at the weekend to hear a report on one of Radio 4's financial advice programmes about a campaign group for women who say they have been badly informed about changes to their pensions.

I have the greatest sympathy for anyone, male or female, who is having difficulty adjusting to the changes to pensions, especially if they were not given much notice.

I initially reacted with complete disbelief to the suggestion that some women were only given a couple of year's notice of the changes which have been made in the state pension age.

One of the two changes concerned stems from a European Court judgement in the early nineties, and an act of parliament passed in 1995, which I remember being announced at the time and giving at least fifteen years' notice of the change,

The other act concerned, which also affects men (as I know very well being about the age when it transitions in) was the Pensions Act 2011, which slightly accelerated the latter part of the equalisation of men's and women's pension ages provided for in the 1995 Act but giving five years' notice, and putting the pension age for men and women up from 65 to 66 between 2018 and 2020 - seven year's notice.

So if anyone only got two years notice of these changes, something went incredibly badly wrong with the communications some years ago.

And sadly it appears that this may have been the case - it has been alleged that some people were not told by the DWP about the change in their retirement age until fourteen years after the relevant legislation had been passed.

The increase in the women's pension age from 60 to 65 is not down to David Cameron's government, or Brown's, or Blair's: it came from a Sex Equality ruling from, dare I say it, the European court at the time of the Major government, when the court ruled that it was unlawful for women to be able to collect their pension from 60 while men had to wait to 65.

The Major administration therefore passed the Pensions act 1995, giving a minimum of fifteen years' warning, that between 2010 and 2020 there would be a staged rise in the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 to equalise that between men and women. As mentioned the last stage of this was accelerated under the 2011 act.

Incidentally for anyone who is reading this and does not know this, there have also been pensions acts under Labour in 2007 and under the coalition in 2014 which will raise the retiring age further

The Pensions Act 2007 provides for the increase in the State Pension age for men and women from 66 to 67 and the date of this change was brought forward in the 2014 act to 2026 to 2028. The 2007 act also provided that the state pension age for men and women will increase from 67 to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

I gather that Pensions ministers are looking at this - it has been suggested that there might be some form of transitional relief for women, of perhaps a hardship fund for anyone affected by special circumstances particularly as a result of the failure of the DWP to keep them informed.

Up to this point this post is absolutely serious, but one thing I cannot take seriously is the utterly inappropriate name - reflecting the exact opposite of what they are campaigning for - of WASPI, the campaign group representing the women affected.

WASPI stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality - when actually it is the incompetent management of the END of State Pension Inequality which has caused their problem.

It would perhaps be unkind to suggest that they change their name to WIFSPI (Women in favour of State Pension Inequality) but WADWPI (Women Against Department of Work and Pensions Incompetence) would certainly be a more appropriate acronym than WASPI is.

As Thomas Sowell put it, and I make no apology for quoting him for the third time in a few days:

As one listener suggested to Radio Four, perhaps men, the gender who have actually been on the wrong end of sex discrimination on pensions, should set up a campaign group called MARSPI - Men Against REAL State Pension Inequality.


Jim said...

Depends how you read it really. Now true you have a good point if WASPI is arguing that "there is Inequality between men and women for state pensions as women no longer have preferential treatment"

However, you could read

"there is inequality in state pensions between older and slightly younger women" In which case the name they chose is appropriate.

Chris Whiteside said...

Fair comment.