Anne Main calls for help for WASPI women who want to return to work

30th November 2016
Anne Main calls for better support for women affected by the change in state pension age who want to return to work and are finding it difficult as they may have been out of the workforce for a long time and do not have the right skillsets.

I, too, accept that the SNP proposal is totally ludicrous because it is totally unaffordable, but can the Secretary of State give me assurances on what can be done for WASPI women who say that they are finding it difficult to get back into work, with the job centres not geared up to help them, and who may have been out of the workforce for considerable time and do not have the skillset needed to get a good job?


Absolutely, and if my hon. Friend will bear with me for 30 seconds while I make one further point, I will then deal with precisely the point she raises, as I absolutely recognise it as an issue for many of these women. I should point out that the current average age of exit from the labour market for women is 63.1, which is well above the state pension age of 60 that the SNP proposal would take us back to. The number of older women aged 50 to 64 in work in 2016 stands at more than 4 million, which is a record high. That is one reason why the Government have extended the right to request flexible working and why job search requirements for those who are not in employment are adjusted to take account of individual circumstances. One purpose of the Green Paper on work and health that we have just produced is precisely to look at ways to join up much better the health, welfare and employment systems, so that we can deal with health conditions or disabilities that may be particularly prevalent in older women who want to work. We need to make the system much better than it has been in the past at removing those barriers, so that people can work.

Will the Secretary of State, or a member of his team, personally examine some of the individual cases to see whether the women affected can prove that they are suffering hardship?


Absolutely. We are always willing to look at individual cases. My hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for Pensions, has already done so. More widely, we introduced older claimant champions last year specifically to support older claimants. They work in jobcentres with work coaches and employers to raise the profile of this group and highlight the benefits of employing older jobseekers.


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