Just 24 hours after Boris Johnson said he couldn’t help women born in the 1950s affected by the rise in State Pension Age, Labour have unveiled a £58 billion plan to compensate the women affected. While it may not be what some campaigners had hoped for, it is a step in the right direction to supporting the women hit by the Tories policy which sped up the women’s retirement age to 65 by 2020.
The Prime Minister may be wishing that he could rewind 24 hours and take back his claim of not being able to “magic up money” for women born in the 1950s affected by the increase in State Pension Age.
The reaction to this statement was fierce with some political commentators saying it could affect the outcome of the Genreal Election. After all, 3.8 million women plus their families is accounts for a lot of votes.
Labour Details It’s Plan
As can be seen from the Observer Newspapers main headline, The Labour Party have pledged £58 billion to help the affected women.
The details of the plan unveiled by the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell are as follows;
- The payments would be delivered in Labour’s first 5 years in government.
- The amount paid for each ‘lost week’ would depend on the year of birth: women born between 6 April 1950 and 6 April 1960 would be paid some redress: £100pw up to 5 April 1955 and tapered down for those born after 5 April 1955.
- On that basis, the individual redress payments would vary between nil and £31,300, with an average payment of £15,380.
- The women would receive payments over a five year period.
- The total cost of their proposal is estimated to be £58 billion before tax, but the party say it could be paid in instalments, e.g. £11.5 billion per annum, if paid over 5 years.
“Historic debt of honour”
Talking about the major policy announcement the Shadow Chancellor said in a press release;
“We’ve prepared a scheme to compensate these women for a historical wrong.
“It’s one that they were not been able to prepare for and for which they’ve had to suffer serious financial consequences for as a result.
“Some of them have been hit by a combination of poverty and stress, having lost out on what they had contributed towards.
“These changes were imposed upon them by a Tory-led government.
“So we have a historical debt of honour to them and when go into government we are going to fulfil that debt.”
McDonnell went onto say;
“We will introduce it as rapidly as we practically can and we will try to ensure the payments are made promptly.
“It’s a five year scheme and they will get their redress over that five year period.
“This is a basic principle of justice that we have to adhere to as a government and we are hoping that people will appreciate the sense of injustice and anger that these women feel about the changes that were imposed upon them.”
Corbyn Attacks Johnson Over Let Down
In his statement about Labour’s plans to compensate 1950s women, The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn hit out at Boris Johnson after he told an audience member in the leaders debate he could help.
In a statement the Labour leader said;
“This week, Boris Johnson dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered. This is about consideration for those who have paid into the system all their lives and made this country what it is, only to be hung out to dry by a government that puts the interests of the richest first.
“The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.
The powerful and wealthy want you to believe that real change is impossible, that it’s not realistic.
But it is possible with Labour. Because Labour is not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers, we are on the side of the people.”
A Major Vote Winner, or a Damp Squib?
There will be people who say that this is nothing more than electioneering, while others may question the affordability of the plan. However, the WASPI women and BackTo60 Groups who represent the affected women, are know to have widespread support from people across the political divide. Their member’s reactions are what may direct some to vote labour on December 12th.
While the Lib Dems have pledged a similar scheme should they win a majority at the General Election, this is considered to be unlikely at best. The SNP are well known to support 1950s women and have previously said they’d back any scheme to help out those affected.
What remains to be seen, is if Labour’s plans are deemed to go far enough in compensating the women hit by the Coalition Government’s decision to sped up the rise in retirement age.
Will an average £15,380 over five years be enough to sway non-traditional Labour voters into backing them?