The Liberal Democrats have accused the
government of betraying more than one million older women over its
pension credit for savings and other income.
The “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 pensioners with low or modest
savings or incomes to retain their benefit entitlements.
But Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb said
377,000 single retired women aged between 60-64 and 670,000 women
of the same age who are married to men under 65 would not be
eligible for the pensions credit due to be introduced in 2003.
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 will want to know why they will have to wait five
years before they can benefit from the new scheme.”
Work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling
replied: “It is rubbish to say that women will lose out as a result
of the pension credit. We are required by law to treat men and
women the same way. Sixty-five is the first point at which the
state pension is available to both men and women, so this is the
earliest point at which the savings reward can be paid without