1.The last few decades have seen substantial reform to the state pension system. Successive Pensions Acts have legislated to equalise state pension age for men and women, further increase state pension age and accelerate that increase. The latest Pensions Act, passed in 2014, created the new state pension, which will be introduced in April 2016. This will simplify what had become a highly complex system and provide a higher state pension for many people currently approaching retirement.
2.We launched our inquiry into Understanding the new state pension amid concerns about the adequacy of Government communications. In part, our work follows up on a 2013 inquiry by our predecessor Committee. Drawing on that valuable work, we were particularly interested in the steps the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department, DWP) had taken to communicate with groups of people most affected by the reforms. These groups included women who were affected by increases in the state pension age being introduced between 2010 and 2020.
3.In the course of our work our attention was particularly drawn to the adequacy of DWP communication to women born in the 1950s, especially regarding increases to their state pension age. This issue, which has been effectively highlighted by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign group, was cited by all our witnesses during our first oral evidence session and accounted for a large volume of our written evidence. MPs representing constituencies across the UK have been overwhelmed by correspondence from women in this age group who consider themselves disadvantaged. We subsequently took oral evidence from WASPI representatives and there were several debates in the House of Commons on their concerns.
4.This Report, which follows an earlier Interim report on state pension statements, covers communication of changes to state pension age. We will shortly consider communication of the new state pension in a further report. We are grateful to everyone who has participated in our inquiry, particularly those many ordinary members of the public who found the time to contribute.
1 Work and Pensions Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2012–13, The Single-tier State Pension: Part 1 of the draft Pensions Bill, HC1000, March 2013
2 Work and Pensions Committee, , October 2015
3 (Steve Webb); (Sally West); (Paul Lewis)
4 For example Women Against State Pension Inequality (); Brenda O’Brien (); Mrs Rosemary Ingram (); Shelagh Simmons (); Teresa Tickner (); Elaine Tasker (); Mrs Jocelyn Tucker ()
6 HC Deb, , cols 123-148WH; HC Deb, , cols 454-512; HC Deb, , cols 249-300WH; HC Deb, , cols 318-375
7 Work and Pensions Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2015–16, Understanding the new state pension - interim report on pension statements, HC550, January 2016
Prepared 15 March 2016