Fixing Waspi issue would create ‘inequality’ – Opperman

The Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has again rejected calls from Women Against Pensions Inequality (Waspi) campaigners for full compensation, saying it would create more inequality between men and women.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, 14 December 2017, Opperman said that going as far as some Waspi campaigners wanted, in calling for full compensation for women affected by the 1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts, would cost the public £70bn.

Opperman, debating the issue after a second petition was raised by Waspi, said that government concessions already reached £1bn and that going any further could create inequality between men and women.

He said: “Going as far as some campaigners have argued … described as ‘full compensation’, would represent a cost of more than £70bn to the public purse.

“With respect, the requirements those changes would make in relation to taking into account the difference between men and women would require new legislation, meaning that an ongoing inequality would potentially be created between men and women.”

MP for Easington Grahame Morris, who brought the debate to the floor, said that the government could take immediate actions, such as extending pension credit, which would cost closer to £800m.

Morris said: “There are things that the Minister and the government can do immediately. We are unnecessarily creating a generation of women in which many now rely on food banks. Some are being forced to sell their homes and to rely on the benefits system, which is degrading for them.”

However, Opperman told the commons: “The government listened to concerned voices during the passage of the 2011 Act, as I indicated to the MP for Easington [Grahame Morris]. The proposed two-year acceleration was reduced to 18 months, benefiting more than a quarter of a million women, with the concession being worth more than £1bn.”

In October, Opperman reiterated to the House of Commons that “the new state pension is much more generous for many women who were historically worse off under the old system”.

Members of Waspi who attended the debate stormed out of the House of Commons Chamber shouting “shame on you” as Opperman defended the changes.

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