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Party 'making false claims'

SNP has powers to help WASPI women, says Labour

Jackie Baillie
Jackie Baillie: (photo by Terry Murden)

The SNP has been accused of wrongly claiming that it cannot help women fighting a delay to their state pension age.

Department for Work and Pensions guidelines have revealed that Scottish ministers have the power to introduce ‘discretionary payments’, should they wish.

It follows the SNP’s attacks on the UK government which pushed back the state pension age from 60 to 66 for women born in the 1950s.

The SNP has regularly denied that t it can take action of its own to support the women. SNP Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman claimed in parliament in February that she could not provide assistance for WASPI [Women Against State Pension Inequality] women.

According to the correspondence from Tory Pensions Minister Guy Opperman, Ms Freeman has since ‘acknowledged’ in a letter to the DWP in June that ‘there are powers available to the Scottish Government that could be used before they reach state pension age’.

Scottish Labour says here letter “appears to fly in the face of a claim made by SNP MP Mhairi Black, who this month said it was a ‘myth’ that additional payments could be made.”

Around 253,000 Scottish women have been affected by the change to the state pension age.

Ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election, Labour campaigned to use the social security powers of the Scottish Parliament to support some of the WASPI women.

Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Thousands of women born in the 1950s have been left facing real financial difficulty because of the lack of notice given by the Tory government about changes to the state pension. Women in Scotland should not have to bear the brunt of Tory mismanagement – and now there is proof that they don’t have to.

“Ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election Labour campaigned to use the social security powers of the Scottish Parliament to support some of the WASPI women who were losing out because of the Tories.

“Time and time again, SNP politicians have claimed they don’t have the powers. Those false claims have now been exposed.

“Jeane Freeman has serious questions to answer about her previous comments which appear intended to deliberately mislead parliament.

“But what is vital now is that action takes place to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives and find that they cannot retire as planned.”

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