It was my birthday recently. Three years ago I was seven years from state pension age, now its ten! I feel like I’m running hard up the down escalator and even if I collapse I’ll have to keep struggling on up because although I took the precaution of income protection insurance it will stop in four years time. You see, twenty five plus years ago when I took it out I my crystal ball failed to predict the recent dramatic increase in pension ages and adjusting it now is very expensive. There was me thinking I could just pay the same premiums for a few more years. How naive. Silly me. Of course I’ll be a much higher risk and would only be paying the premium for 13 years not over the original 30 odd years. Off course! Obvious really. I hope I don’t need it, but I am left feeling cheated. After all I wont get what I thought I’d purchased: income protection in the years when I am likely to need it most.
I’m all for equality but it is a pity that none of these fifty-something women impacted by this change were treated equally during their time in education or at the beginning of their working lives and, despite equal rights acts covering employment, are probably still not. According to a recent ONS report unemployment for women aged 50-64 is rising significantly faster than in any other group. Shadow Home Secretary, Evette Cooper also highlighted at the labour party conference, as reported in the Guardian, other significant areas in which they are taking a disproportionately higher impact of the current austerity measures.
So for a large number of women who might have become respectable pensioners in a few years time but who lose their jobs because of the austerity cuts there is the prospect of longer term unemployment adding them to the ranks of so called “benefit scroungers”. It could be me, it could be your mum or your grandma. I just hope that insult isn’t added to injury by forcing them onto a workfare scheme – or that if they are you will stand up for them – after all they already have many skills, a life time of hard work behind them, a pension they contributed to in good faith denied them, oh and they may also be minding your kids while you work.