At the next meeting of Shropshire Council on Thursday, Councillor Heather Kidd is calling on Shropshire Council to support women campaigning for fairer pension arrangements after their state pension age was raised in 1995 (see the WASPI campaign). I have tabled a motion calling for the council to adopt an economic duty and report on the economic impacts of its policies. Tracey Huffer had submitted a motion on gender neutral titles in council paperwork. This has been agreed in principle without the need for council discussion.
From Councillor Heather Kidd:
“The Council notes that the Government has failed to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951, who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age (SPA) with lack of appropriate notification.
Hundreds of thousands of women had significant pension changes imposed on them by the Pensions Acts of 1995 and 2011 with little/no/personal notification of the changes. Some women had only two years notice of a six-year increase to their state pension age.
Many women born in the 1950’s are living in hardship. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences. Many of these women are already out of the labour market, caring for elderly relatives, providing child-care for grandchildren or suffering discrimination in the workplace so struggle to find employment.
Women born in this decade are suffering financially. These women have worked hard, raised families and paid their tax and national insurance with the expectation that they would be financially secure when reaching 60. It is not the pension age itself that is in dispute – it is widely accepted that women and men should retire at the same time.
The issue is that the rise in the women’s state pension age has been too rapid and has happened without sufficient notice being given to the women affected, leaving them with no time to make alternative arrangements.
The Council requests that the Chief Executive write letters of support to the Prime Minister, the secretary of State for DWP (David Gauke) and the Pensions Minister (Guy Opperman) to advise them of the adverse effects that these changes to the SPA is having on women living in Shropshire who were born on or after 6th April 1951.”
From Councillor Andy Boddington:
“Many policies that Shropshire Council introduces will have a direct or indirect impact on the economy of the towns and villages of Shropshire. The way the transport, education, housing, care and health systems are managed impacts on the economic wellbeing of our county. If we don’t provide the right places for people to live and to work in the right jobs, and they can’t get access to the education and health care they need, we will not thrive.
Every paper coming to Cabinet and Council should incorporate a brief statement on the perceived economic impacts of any policy. The intention of this duty is not to be onerous. It aims to focus the Council on the benefits and disbenefits of any policy for a county that we all want to flourish.
This motion requests the Council establish a Task and Finish group to consider an economic duty and how it should be reported to Council. It should report to full Council no later than December 2017.”
At last we are councillors
Shropshire Council is to end its archaic practice of referring to councillors using an honorific prefix – “Mr A Another”, “Mrs J Doe”, “Ms M Smith”. References to gender and marital status have no role in the operation of a modern council. The move follows a motion to council from Tracey Huffer calling for the practice to end. We understand that in future, the council minutes will refer to councillors as councillors. Who knows why it took so long for Shropshire Council to come into the modern age.