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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2011): Pensions - UK

Duncan Smith rethinks rise in pensions age

J. Insley

The Guardian, Oct. 14th 2011, p. 15

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has announced that the planned rise in the state pension age to 66 will be delayed until October 2020 in a move the government claims will benefit thousands of women. The original plans in the Pensions Bill meant women faced an increase in their state pension age to 65 from November 2018, followed by a further one-year increase to 66 from April 2020. That would have resulted in 33,000 women waiting an extra two years before they could claim the state pension. The new timetable will cap the increased wait to a maximum of 18 months, costing taxpayers 1.1bn. Campaigners had bombarded ministers, MPs and the media with letters demanding the rise in pension ages should be slowed down. They argued that women hit by the biggest increases in retirement age, most of whom were aged 57 in 2011, need more time to plan their finances or ensure they had work to cover any shortfall in retirement income caused by the later pension payments.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Oct. 14th 2011, p. 6)

Legal challenge may drive up private pensions

J. Hall

Daily Telegraph, Oct. 24th 2011, p.2

In October 2011 six unions took High Court action to argue that a switch in the way annual increases to pensions were calculated were unfair to public sector workers. The unions challenged the use of the consumer price index instead of the traditionally higher retail price index to calculate the annual public sector pension rise. It was pointed out that a successful challenge would open the way for an estimated four million private sector workers also affected by the change to challenge their pension providers.

Unison ballots 1m workers on strike action

D. Campbell

The Guardian, Oct. 10th 2011, p. 13

Britain could see its biggest wave of industrial action in November 2011after the country's largest union set out plans to ballot more than 1 million members about striking over plans to change public sector pensions. Members of Unison who work for local councils, the NHS and civil service will vote during October on whether to join the planned day of action on 30 November against the government plans. They include nurses, paramedics, social workers, binmen, hospital porters, dinner ladies and teaching assistants. Other unions, including Unite, the GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, also intend to ballot members about strike action, raising the prospect of disruption across the NHS, education and local authority services in a concerted protest by almost 3 million workers.

(See also The Independent, Oct. 6th 2011, p. 1, 9)

Unions launch pensions legal challenge

O. Wright

The Independent, Oct. 24th 2011, p. 2

Six unions are taking action to challenge new legislation that allows the use of the consumer price index (CPI), rather than the usually higher retail price index (RPI) to calculate the annual increase in public-sector pensions. The move came into effect in April 2011, introduced by the Chancellor, George Osborne. The unions, which are taking the case to the High Court, argue it is unfair and actually illegal under current social security legislation.

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