Written by Richard Leonard
If there is one thing this Tory government excels at it is hypocrisy. The latest participant is one Ros Altmann . Some may remember her as the one time champion of pension rights who was subsequently appointed Director General of Saga the group which targets over fifties with its financial products amongst others.
In that role Ros became the coalition governments biggest critic for the way it handled the jump in retirement age for women from sixty to sixty six. She campaigned vigorously but in vain for a change of heart in the government’s approach to the unsatisfactory state of affairs. Move on a few years and arise Baroness Altmann, newly ennobled by Cameron almost as soon as he entered Downing Street after his election victory in 2015. Now Pensions Minister in this most heartless government in living memory she defends the disgraceful speed with which they have implemented the changes in a report in the Tory supporting Daily Mail on the 19th January. Not an organ usually critical of anything that is Cameron even this rag is moved to more than hint that it disapproves of her perceived betrayal of women.
Very few people would complain about women and men having the same state pension age especially in this climate of equality of the sexes. But the insistence of the Tories in the coalition government, supported by their spineless Liberal Democratic bed-fellows, that the equalisation be brought forward from 2020, to save some money, as the Labour government had decreed, to 2018 was callous and spiteful to the thousands of women who lose six years pension worth close to £50,000 (Daily Mail 19th Jan).
Not only has this Tory Government deprived thousands of hard working women of their promised pension but they failed to advise most women affected by the changes in time for them to make alternative arrangements for their financial security when they stop receiving a wage. Many women of the generation affected had been discriminated against in terms of pay during their working lives (Guardian 19th Jan) and now the rushed changes can mean that a year’s difference in age can be an extra three years wait for their pension.
And how does the Pension Minister , the bold Baroness Altmann, feel now about the plight of these women pensioners? ‘I have been looking at whether we can do anything – we haven’t found a way. Obviously I feel for these women.’ She did not have ‘a magic pot of money’ (Daily Mail 19th Jan). So that’s alright then. Will the real Ros Alltman please stand up.
To underline the contempt in which this Tory Government holds the ordinary people of this country, I quote Alan Higham, of independent advice site PensionsChamp.com ‘The Government has closed its mind on these ladies…there has been failures to communicate. To ignore their plight entirely displays a callousness unbecoming of a civilised country’.