A Question For Parliament – Are You Listening, Bob?

BOB SPINK, our local MP, is keen to ask questions in parliament. Well, here is a pertinent question that needs to be asked on behalf of many of his married female constituents:-

Why are married women, who have elected to forgo any entitlement to unemployment benefits by choosing to pay the old ‘B’ Rate, Married Woman’s stamp, now being prevented by this government’s pension reforms from being able to purchase Class 3 contributions to top-up their state pension entitlement?

Prior to 1975, married women were given the opportunity of reducing their National Insurance contributions to assist their families in making ends meet – on the understanding that the reduced rate would not permit them to claim state benefits should they find themselves out of work.

Many responsible wives, on small, part-time incomes, took-up the offer reasoning that – in the absence of any other advice – their contribution would still entitle them to NHS treatment (true) and a full state pension when they retired (false). It now transpires that someone retiring next year, despite being employed full-time for over 40 years and never being in a position to claim state benefits, will be entitled to around just £20 per week.

On the other hand, a female who has enjoyed state benefits throughout their working lives, and never worked, will ‘retire’ on a full state pension.

The anomaly, which needs to be addressed immediately by this government, goes to the heart of what is fair in a modern society.

Currently, married women on the old ‘B’ Rate stamp, can claim against their husband’s contributions to ensure they receive a ‘60% Pension;’ but they can only do that when he retires.

Had the couple not married, spent their lives on benefits and never worked: both would receive a full state pension when they reached retirement age.