During a panel discussion of international finance ministers at a Global Investment Conference in 2013, George Osborne claimed the changes “probably s
During a panel discussion of international finance ministers at a Global Investment Conference in 2013, George Osborne claimed the changes “probably saved more money than anything else we’ve [the Conservative administration] done”.
Speaking in April 2016 when a number of reforms kicked in, Mr Osborne, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time said: “Today’s reform of the state pension is the most significant since its inception.
“The new system means that, at last, people will have certainty in what they can expect from the state in old age and for many women and the self-employed, it will be more generous.”
He added: “These changes you see today are what a modern, compassionate Conservative government is all about.
George Osborne speaking at the Global Investment Conference in 2013
“We’re backing hard work and aspiration, allowing people to keep more of their own money, supporting savers and giving the next generation a step up.”
The recent pension reforms, started in 1995, aimed for pension equality between men and women by 2020 but this timetable was sped up under a later Pensions Act in 2011.
However, archive footage from three years before when Mr Osborne appeared alongside other finance chiefs – such as the IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the finance minsters of Germany and Canada, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble and Jim Flaherty – reveals he talked about the amount of money saved.
George Osborne during the conference in 2013
These changes, when you’re a finance minister, the savings dwarf almost everything else you do
He said: “Tackling entitlement costs and the cost of an ageing society is a real challenge for Western democratic societies and in the UK we’ve brought forward the increase in pension age to 66 in this decade; we’ve brought forward the increase to 67 in the next decade and actually because of some reform taken some years ago the female pension age is increasing to 65 as we speak.
“These changes, when you’re a finance minister, the savings dwarf almost everything else you do.
“They are absolutely enormous savings and they enable you to go on providing a decent retirement income. So you’re not necessarily reducing the entitlement of people who are retired you’re just increasing the age when that entitlement kicks in.
“Of course when these were first put into practice these pensions systems life expectations was dramatically less.
“I’ve found it one of the less controversial things we’ve done and probably saved more money than anything else we’ve done.”
Mr Osborne’s comments have been condemned by the leader of the campaign group 63 Is The New 60 Mariana Robinson, who told Express.co.uk: “George Osborne boasted that speeding up women’s pension age was such a huge saving to the treasury that it dwarfed almost anything else they could do. So where has the money gone?
“In an effort to speed up gender equalisation of state pension, Osborne created… age discrimination between the women involved.”
In 2013 the Conservative government claimed to support hard working people
Ms Robinson added: “The timing of that boast is also pertinent. Mr Osborne said this in May 2013, when many women hadn’t had any notice at all of any of the changes and before the DWP letters informing them of the 2011 Act changes were sent out.
“For most, including myself, this was a huge shock. I’d already had two age rises and wasn’t expecting a third. All in a ten year window and despite getting forecasts. It’s the constant moving of the goal posts that is wrong.”
According to a Freedom of Information request, seen by Express.co.uk, the first time people affected by the changes to the 1995 Act were notified by letter was in April 2009 when just under 10,000 people were told.
George Osborne was Chancellor for six years
Further letters were sent out in July and October that year with further notifications sent out in January and April 2010 and then February and March in 2011.
Notifications about the 2011 Act were initially sent out in January 2012, when 207,000 people were informed.
Further letters were dispatched in the following month although the bulk of people affected were notified at some point between October 2012 and November 2013 when approximately 4.6 million people were told.