Age UK calls on Government to improve comms over pension reforms

Women caught in the crossfire of Government plans to increase the age of state pensions are being left in the dark by poor communications, the UK's leading charity for older people has claimed.

State pensions: women caught in the crossfire
State pensions: women caught in the crossfire

MPs will debate the Pensions Bill in the House of Commons later today and discuss ways of addressing concerns voiced from all parties.

The Pensions Bill would see the entitlement age for women’s state pensions rise from 60 to 65 by 2018, and then increase to 66 for both sexes by 2020. However, women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 April 1960 will be hit twice by the proposals and the Bill would force 330,000 women to wait 18 months to two years longer to claim their state pension.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said this morning that the organisation had been contacted by thousands of women confused about the Government’s proposals.

'Worryingly our survey shows thousands of women simply don’t know about the increase to 65, let alone 66. This shows the scale of the communications challenge facing Government before any more changes are introduced,’ she said.

'The Government is asking people to plan their retirement, but it’s difficult to see how women can plan properly when the Government keeps moving the state pension age goalposts.’

James Tyrrell, director at Insight Public Affairs, said: ‘Communicating the importance for adequate financial planning has long been a challenge for successive governments.

‘The Government must recognise the importance of giving people fair notice to plan for the changes – most agree ten years is about right, which makes the 2020 target a push at a time when the Government is needing to reassert itself as a force for the national good,’ he said.

He added: ‘The Government’s most recent challenge has been in selling the NHS reforms, where it tried hard to explain the importance of making significant cuts now to balance the NHS books by 2015. The fact the proposed pension changes will not save any money in this Parliament means the deficit reduction excuse will be difficult to mobilise, so the likelihood of a compromise on the details may still be in play.'

The Pensions Bill is the second major Government proposal that has come under fire for its communications.  In April, the comms around the NHS reforms was said to be 'adding to the risks of failure', by the NHS Confederation.

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