Rishi Sunak says he ‘can’t resolve’ state pensions
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Speaking during a hustings in Cardiff as part of the Tory leadership contest, Mr Sunak was forced to dodge a question on whether he would alter the way a state pension age increase was implemented by Conservative government towards the turn of the millennium. A woman fielding a question to the former chancellor asked whether he would “fix this major long standing issue” that has left millions women struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis after having the age at which they could receive their state pension raised from 60 to 65 to align it with men.
The woman said: “We’ve lost a year now without any action being taken for these 3.8 million women, of which 220,000 have already died, so if you become PM, will you put that on your list of to do to fix this major long standing issue?”
Mr Sunak said: “Look, I’m going to be straight with you. I can’t promise you that I’m going to be able to resolve that situation.
“I just want to be straight with you on that. It has been through all the procedures that you are familiar with, and I have been part of a Government that signed off on all of those, as chancellor I did.
“I cannot promise you that I’m going to suddenly radically change my mind on that and I know that’s not the answer you want but I’d rather be honest with you.”
As Mr Sunak then drew his answer to a close, the woman interjected, saying: “How many more people need to die before you do something?”
Mr Sunak added: “What I can tell you is that I absolutely believe pensioners should have dignity in retirement and that we should support them.
“That’s why with the cost of living, which I know is tricky for pensioners, I have announced as chancellor programmes that are particularly targeted at pensioners.
“This includes payments of up to an extra £300 alongside their winter fuel payments, and it’s why the triple lock will be back in action as expected because that is what Conservative governments do.
“You have done an enormous amount for our economy and our society and I want to make sure you get the support that you need going forward.”
The former chancellor was addressing a question that arose from the 1995 Conservative Government’s State Pension Act.
The Bill increased the age at which a woman can receive their state pension from 60 to 65.
While the move to make more equal working rights for men and women was applauded, a group called Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) took issue with the manner in which the increase had been done.
They claim that 3.8 million women born between April 6 1950 and April 5 1960 have been left with insufficient time to deal with their finances after they were suddenly not allowed to receive their pension at the age of 60.
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The issue has become an increasing problem with Boris Johnson’s government deciding against taking any affirmative action to change the Bill.
The woman who fielded her question to Mr Sunak claimed 220,000 women born within the time frame had died struggling to get on top of their finances because of government inaction.
WASPI claims that information on the changes to the age at which women receive their pensions has been too sparse and that many women only found out about the change when they were 59, giving them no time to plan accordingly.
They also claim that the letter that is required to be sent to women regarding the pension increase often never arrives, leaving many women entirely unaware.
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