Push for pensions bill amendment stalls

An attempt to insert an amendment into the Pensions Scheme Bill by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) has stalled. The failure of political parties to reach an agreement on its introduction has resulted in the campaign of the group being brought to a standstill.

The Bill concerns master trust regulation and recently had its second reading in the House of Commons.

Waspi’s campaign is for transitional measures in regards to women’s state pension; for those who, during the 1950’s, saw the age at which they were able to receive it increase.

Defending its position on the matter was the Scottish National Party, who do not wish to bring in this kind of amendment to the Pensions Schemes Bill.

Labour stated that it was disappointed in the limitations of the Bill during the debate, highlighting that it did not address issues regarding the provision of state or occupational pensions.

Commenting on the potential amendment was Labour MP, Frank Field. The work and pensions select committee chairman expressed his hope that the introduction of an amendment delay the bill to communicate the campaign message but would not get rid of it.

“The plan was not to kill the Bill but just to hold it up for a bit so that we could hopefully highlight the position of Waspi pensioners, for soon they will all be retired and the horror will have been completed. We have no other weapon against the Government, because they have made it plain that they are going to sit out this issue. The Scottish nationalists were not prepared to form an alliance with those of us who want to block the Bill in order to actually raise this issue and perhaps implement the recommendation of a previous Select Committee report.”

Although agreeing with the feeling of disappointment surrounding the lack of Waspi amendment, Ian Blackford stated that the issue’s scope would have rendered its introduction as “impossible”.

The SNP pensions spokesman and MP stated: “You made the point that this is a narrow Bill, which is exactly why it would have been impossible to amend it to take account of the Waspi case. [Field] should know that an attempt to kill the Bill would have done exactly that, and we do not solve the problem faced by Waspi women by defeating this Bill, which is so necessary to protect pension savers. Frankly, he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself; he does no justice for the Waspi women with his campaign and the remarks he is making.”

A non-Waspi group also campaigning for transitional measures has also come to light, with a strategy document from the group having been viewed by Money Marketing.

The group known as ’63 is the new 60’ is separately campaigning for state pension provision from age 63, requesting members to come to a demonstration on 21 February arranged by other non-Waspi groups.

Members of ’63 is the new 60’ are told not to share the document with members of Waspi, which requests that members should increase efforts in contacting Theresa May and their own local MPs.

An extract from the document states: “We strongly believe that she is being kept out of the loop on this issue which the men in grey suits may well feel is ‘not that important’. If you have a supporting MP, then please push him to write to the Prime Minister on your behalf.”

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