Boring pensions and inequality

So just a thought on inequality. The ramifications of the equalisation of state pensionable age sound REALLY REALLY BORING DON’T THEY FELLOW YOUNG PEOPLE, LETS NOT THINK ABOUT PENSIONS AND HOW BORING AND TERRIFYING IT IS THAT WE’VE NEVER PAID INTO ONE, heh heh heh *NERVOUS LAUGHTER*.

But don’t stop reading. Because a quick look at how this whole thing has unfolded over the past two decades and more (the Pensions Minister Ros Altmann has confirmed the changes will go ahead despite growing pressure from the great Women Against State Pension Inequality) is a great lesson in:

a) how governments of all colours often totally fail to listen to women and
b) how inequality created by stupid bigotry and prejudice becomes structural horrifically easily.

Basically: the pension age for women used to be 60, end of. But in in 1995, under the last Tory government, moves were made to equalise this to bring women up to the men’s age so both sexes got an equal amount of retirement. Not many people have a problem with this, personally I’d rather see everyone escape from wage slavery at 60, but the idea that work takes it’s toll harder on women and we need a break earlier is bullshit (even if it is bullshit that would have benefited me).

But. There are a heck of a number of problems with this that mean in trying to equalise one issue, government has essentially created more inequality. When I say inequality here, I don’t mean “oh a few well-off pensioners are going to be a few grand short and might not be able to go on that third cruise”. This pension inequality affects predominantly low paid, unpropertied women whose main income in later life will be state pension. They will have to work for years longer, meaning years of the National Insurance contributions they’ve paid in since the age of 17 have vanished completely.

Firstly, as many of the women affected by this (primarily those born in the early 50s) had no equality of wages when they were at work – equal pay wasn’t a legal right of any sort until 1970, and is still far off being achieved today, added to which it was much more common for women of that generation to be the sole stay-at-home parent, they therefore had less opportunity to put as much money into pension schemes as their male counterparts. Few of them therefore have private pension schemes and are extra reliant on state pension.

Secondly and disgustingly, it took FOURTEEN YEARS for anyone from either the Conservative government of 1992-1997, the Labour government of 1997-2010 or the Lib-Con coalition for 2010-2015 to think about writing to any of the women affected to tell them that they’d have to work for up to another 6 years before receiving state pension. Yup, that same state pension which so many of them rely upon for an income in later life. There was never a proper consultation and very few women had a chance to prepare.

Thirdly, that no-one thought this through properly is evidenced from the fact that a one year difference in age will result in a three and a half year difference in the age you reach your pensionable age. More on this here.

So a massive sexist omnishambles of: sexism via wage inequality creating a disparity in pension pots in the first place,  sexism via a lack of respect to women shown by three separate administrations in a row leading to lack of proper consultation and warning creating further upset to thousands, and sexism via the complete lack of respect to women shown today evidenced by Altmann’s fucking flippant response to all the women affected that “there’s no magic pot of money” to help them out with.

I think they know money doesn’t appear out of nowhere, mate, they’ve all been balancing household budgets on a knife edge all their lives because society never cared enough to correct the gender pay gap.

So – inequality. Don’t fucking do it in the first place and don’t perpetuate it either.


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