The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of betraying
more than one million older women over its proposed pension credit
for savings and other income, writes Bill
Work and pensions spokesperson Steve Webb said under the tax
changes 377,000 single retired women aged between 60-64, and
670,000 women of the same age married to men under 65 would not be
eligible for the scheme due to be introduced in 2003.
The new ‘savings credit’ element of the scheme for pensioners is
available only to those aged 65 and over and their spouses. It is
aimed at allowing those pensioners with low or modest savings or
incomes to retain their benefit entitlements which are currently
Webb said: “This is yet another example of how a complex
government pension scheme will fail to achieve its aims. We find
that women pensioners under 65 will be excluded from the scheme.
They have been cruelly ignored. They will want to know why they
will have to wait five years before they can benefit from the new
Work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling hit back: “It is
rubbish to say that women will lose out as a result of the pension
credit. Never before has any government rewarded people for saving.
The majority of the five million pensioners who gain are women.
“We are required by law to treat men and women the same way.
Sixty five is the first point at which the state pension –
including the state earnings related pensions scheme, is available
to both men and women, so this is the earliest point at which the
savings reward can be paid without discrimination.”