Last night, I presented a petition supporting the WASPI campaign on behalf of the Motherwell & Wishaw constituency:
“I present a petition on behalf of residents of the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and others who kindly signed the petition while it was there in my constituency. I am grateful for the chance to present this petition calling for fair transitional arrangements for 1950s-born women affected by changes to the state pension age. The text of the petition has already been read by my hon. Friend Martin Docherty-Hughes.
I should declare an interest. I am very fortunate to have been born a year before the date that applies for the change to pension arrangements, and I feel a deep obligation to those women, some of whom came to my constituency office suffering real hardship. As a result of what has happened to them, some of them have had to apply for help from the Royal Society for the Relief of Indigent Gentlewomen of Scotland to raise their incomes.
The Petition of residents of Wishaw and Motherwell.”
Pensions are not a benefit; they are a contract with workers which the UK Government has broken. As a result, the women affected are being denied their pension rights. 4,000 women in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency alone will be affected by the changes with some women having to wait an extra year and a half before accessing their pension. I agree with an equal state pension age between men and women, but the UK Government has unjustly accelerated the equalisation of pension ages and has given little notice to those affected leaving their plans for retirement in tatters.
It is a disgrace that the Tories are refusing to review the decision despite an independent report highlighting a number of options to alleviate the impact which are entirely affordable and reasonable. It has now been left to the SNP to form an opposition to these utterly disgraceful proposals. In the coming weeks, the SNP will be delivering a copy of the report to Number 10.
Rest assured, the SNP form a strong opposition to the Tories and will fight for the rights of pensioners across Scotland and the UK.