How does one reform Social Security when it’s benefit boosting that buys the votes?

5 thoughts on “Forbes post, “The UK Election, WASPI And Why Social Security Reform Is So Danged Hard”

  1. Not a bad summary of the Waspi situation; however, several points in this admittedly very complex issue are missing, glossed over or just inaccurate. Waspi does not disagree with age equalisation of state pension age; however, it does disagree with the way it was implemented: far too fast (a 6-year increase in pension age over 4.5 birth years, with the second rise adding 18 months – not 1 year – to the delay for many women); and with dismally poor notification. I don’t know where you found the figure that 75% of women knew about the pension age rises; I believe it is far, far lower. In fact, the Department of Work and Pensions admitted recently that over the years between 1995 and 2009, when they belatedly began to write to the women affected, it was brought to their attention several times that the news just wasn’t getting through. Since DWP had relied on issuing the odd press release to a random selection of publications it was hardly likely to. After all, who finds pensions, never mind old women, newsworthy? When DWP did begin to notify us by letter in 2009 it was in the run up to the 2011 Act which then accelerated the rise, adding the extra 12 to 18 months, so the programme of personal notification was suspended. As a result, many women, like me born in the mid-1950s, received notification as late as 2012 and 2013, when we were in our late 50s and making plans for retirement at 60. Other changes brought in mean that we can no longer rely on our husband’s National Insurance contributions, as was traditionally the case, to boost our state pension. Although it is woefully inadequate, women rely on their state pension to a far greater extent than men. This is because our ability to accrue a decent pension has been affected not only by the motherhood penalty but also by discrimination in the workplace. If that were not bad enough, part-time workers – overwhelmingly women – were banned from work pension schemes until as late as the 1990s.

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    1. Various DWP surveys indicated that around 75% of women affected were aware that state pension age was rising. The exact figure varies from survey to survey, but the reasonable conclusion is that most women were aware that state pension age was rising.

      This is consistent with the publicity the changes attracted. They were initially announced on live television during the budget announcement, and were covered across a wide range of media afterwards. The Judicial Review documented a range of campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness over the years, The Judicial Review also highlighted that one of the claimants had been informed in writing twice by her employer, yet apparently was still unaware that her state pension age was no longer 60.

      A fair point from the surveys however, is that a much smaller number of women knew their exact pension age. This indicates a lack of engagement/interest from people, as well as a lack of precise information from the government (probably a combination of both).

      Like most things, the Waspi issue at its heart has a legitimate grievance, but unfortunately it has been inflated and distorted by NIMBYism and political interests.

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