Kate Hollern MP

Working Hard for Blackburn

Tory hypocrisy over pensions

The pension situation at British Home Stores has raised many concerning questions. In the days and weeks to follow I'm sure more and more will come the light about the situation at BHS, one thing this is clear already though, something seems to have gone horribly wrong.

BHS for decades has stood pride of place on our high streets, with 164 stores nationwide and an employee headcount of up to 11,000. It must be with great fear and uncertainty employees face the next few days.

The pension’s regulator needs to investigate fully and seek to recoup any money necessary.

I hope that whatever foul play has happened with staff’s pensions is rectified quickly, as it’s only right and just that if employees go to work, work hard and pay into their pension fund for their golden years, they should expect to have a good pension. Indeed, an unlikely source of support came from Tory business minister, Anna Soubry who yesterday said while talking about a steel works, “I know that people have been working there for up to 30 years and paying into a pension fund in the expectation that when the moment comes for them to retire, they will have a certain amount of money on which to live’’. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

However, this stance from the Conservatives is downright hypocritical when we take into consideration their treatment of women when it comes to the state pension age.

Earlier this year Women against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) and others were left reeling when the government gave many women very little notice about changes to the state pension age and in particular informing women wouldn’t receive their state pension at the time they had budgeted and forecasted for.

Women born after April 1951, have had to come to terms with a delay receiving their pension with inadequate (and often no) personal notice, faster than promised in the 2011 Pension Act and with not enough time to make alternative plans.

So yes, Anna Soubry, the case for pension fairness is clear, but if you want to gain the trust and respect of women left out in the cold by state pension age changes, leave the hypocrisy at the door and support women who have had their retirement plans have been shattered.

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