Martin Lewis answers question about state pension
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The state pension is not enough to keep people above the breadline and the oldest pensioners often have the toughest time of it. Without workplace or personal pensions, retirement is a time of “suffering” for too many.
The oldest pensioners have it hardest, and the oldest woman often have it hardest of all.
Many did not build up sufficient state pension entitlement during their working lifetimes, through no fault of their own.
Some gave up work to start a family or care for loved ones, while many suffered mid-life illnesses that stopped them from earning money. Often, they relied on their husband’s state and personal pension entitlement, only to lose that through death or divorce.
More than 3.5 million so-called Waspi women had to wait an extra six years for their state pension, after the government increase the retirement age for women from 60 to 66.
Last year, more one in four female pensioners were living below the breadline, equivalent to 1.25 million, Age UK figures show.
That is an increase of 260,000 in the last decade, even though the number of women claiming state pension has fallen as their retirement age jumped.
The number of older women living in poverty will be far higher today, due to the cost of living crisis and the decision to axe the state pension triple lock for the current tax year.
The misery this is causing to honest people who have worked hard all their lives and trusted the state would be there for them is a scandal.
I have repeatedly highlighted the case of women living on scraps in what is supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world.
I reported on one woman who was starving on just £26 a month while waiting for her state pension.
Another was relying on food parcels to survive.
One woman told a heart breaking tale of burning her neighbour’s old fence to stay warm as energy prices rocketed.
These tales of hardship are only the tip of the iceberg. Yet a constant refrain among these women is that nobody cares.
Yesterday, one retired woman challenged me to highlight their plight. She had read my article pointing out that although the new state pension will hit a maximum of £10,600 in April, older pensioners will get staggering £2,500 less.
Express.co.uk reader, CJ, wrote to tell me how she, like so many older woman, has fallen through cracks in the system. Many thought paying the married woman’s stamp would protect them, and feel misled.
CJ’s husband died just below state retirement age. Even though he paid National Insurance for 40 years, she gets just £5 a week as a result of his contributions.
She is not just angry for herself, but every other woman in the same position, while furious at the lack of response. “Everybody is very sorry but nobody actually does anything about it.”
CJ added: “There are too many women in this situation through nothing they have done themselves, quite the opposite. They have worked hard, paid their taxes and NI stamps, in pure ignorance!”
Nobody likes to feel cheated. Especially by the state.
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Plenty of men will point out that they are also struggling in retirement, and that’s true beyond a doubt. Age UK figures showing 27 percent of single female pensioners live in poverty, with single men close behind at 23 percent.
Couples fare better, with “only” 13 percent in poverty.
And to be fair, the new state pension has given women a slight boost. Women who retired after April 6, 2016, get on average £8,567 a year.
Older women who retired before that date receive just £7,585 a year, almost £1,000 less.
Again, men do only slightly better, receiving £8,866 on the new state pension and £8,977 on the old one.
These figures are all scandalously low. It leaves recipients thousands of pounds short of the income needed for a comfortable retirement.
Perhaps it’s wrong to only focus on women in this article but I have spoken to so many who are in a dire position and their voices need to be heard.
But who’s listening?
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