"Use National Insurance surplus to fix pensions injustice", says thinktank economist

Independent economist releases report laying out remedies for pensions inequality 

LANDMAN ECONOMICS, a labour market thinktank, has produced research suggesting that the UK Government should use the surplus from the National Insurance Fund (NIF) to redress any pension loses experienced by women born in the 1950s.

The report launched today at the Social Market Foundation was commissioned by the SNP and was attended by Mhairi Black, Ian Blackford women against pension inequality (WASPI) campaigners.

It stated that returning to the terms of the original 1995 Pensions Act would allow a substantial amount of women to access their pension, alleviate pension poverty and cost £8bn.

"I hope that the UK Government will welcome this report and at last act to end the gross injustice these women are being forced to bear." Mhairi Black

Mhairi Black SNP MP a long time supporter of the WASPI campaign, said: "Not only have these women had their retirement plans completely shattered, they were also badly let down by a UK Government that failed to adequately inform them of the changes.  

"And when you consider that women have historically been paid lower wages than their male counterparts or faced greater expectations to be the primary care giver it is clear to see that these women have been treated appallingly by this and previous UK Governments.

"£8 billion is not a small amount of money but it is a drop in the ocean for this Tory Government that thinks nothing of spending £167 billion on their nuclear-obsession by renewing the obsolete Trident weapons system – that’s twenty times the cost of ending pension inequality for these women. 

"I hope that the UK Government will welcome this report and at last act to end the gross injustice these women are being forced to bear.

"If the Prime Minister is to live up to her rhetoric of working ‘not for the privileged few’ it is time to end this inequality and deliver for the women of the 1950s."

"£8 billion is not a small amount of money but it is a drop in the ocean for this Tory Government that thinks nothing of spending £167 billion on their nuclear-obsession by renewing the obsolete Trident weapons system." Mhairi Black

The author of the report Howard Reed, a former senior researcher for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), found that the National Insurance Fund (NIF) had a £20.9bn surplus at the end of March last year and recent forecasts project a surplus of £26.3bn at the end of this year and £30.7bn at the end of 2018.  

He argues that in the options laid out for laying outstanding pensions to women, the surplus within the National Insurance Fund can be used to deal with any cots to the pensions system as the state pension falls into category of contributory benefits.

The option advocated by the SNP would cost £8bn by 2021 and would mean the women's pension age rising to 65 by April 2020 and delaying the rise to 66 by 2024.

The issue of pension inequality arose from the 2011 Pensions Act which was passed in line with European Union (EU) requirements and UK Government policy to equalise the state pension for men and women.

Originally conceived to lower government liabilities, the act will increase the state pension age for women from 63 to 65 from April of this year to November 2018 and from 65 to 66 by October 2020, thereby depriving women of access to their pensions.

But adding to this controversy, many of the women affected were never told of the changes meaning that they will now receive their state pension years after they expected to disrupting their retirement arraignments.

Up to a quarter of a million women are effected in Scotland and 2.6m women in the UK as a whole but despite campaigning by WASPI against these "transitional measures" the UK Government has refused to act citing costs of £30bn to allow women born in the 50s to access pensions.

Last week CommonSpace covered protests by several WASPI groups across Scotland who marched together in Glasgow to drawn awareness to the on going campaign.

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Picture courtesy of WASPI