Theresa May’s government has just been caught breaking the law. And millions will be affected

Theresa May Caught Out Tories
Steve Topple

On Sunday 7 May the Conservative government quietly breached its own legislation. Its excuse for flouting the law? The general election. But its actions will affect millions of people who have a right to know about this policy before voting on 8 June.

Quietly does it

The government had been due to release [paywall] the details of the next rise in the state pension age. This could affect around 5.4 million people currently under the age of 45. In a recent review conducted for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), John Cridland CBE said [pdf p.13] by 2039 the age that people can claim their state pension should be 68.

But on Friday 28 April the DWP said [paywall] it could not report on its decision. This is because it said [paywall] the decision needs to be made by a “government formed after the general election”. There is, however, a problem with the government’s refusal to make a decision. Because it is in breach of its own Pensions Act 2014.

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Section 27 of the Act states that the government legally must publish the first report into the state pension age rise by 7 May 2017. But the DWP said [paywall] in April that:

This is a crucial issue for the long term management of both the public finances and the savings of individuals. Therefore it is important that policy is made by a government with the power to act on that policy… The delay incurred in waiting to publish the report will have no detrimental impact on the public.

Purdah, Purdah…

So, by quoting Purdah (the regulated election period) rules, the government has effectively given itself a ‘get out of jail free card’ regarding the state pension age. Because as The Financial Times said [paywall]:

The government was also considering a more aggressive timetable for state pension age rises that could leave millions of people in their twenties unable to claim their state pension until they are at least 70.

Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy with Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘There are no votes to be won in telling people they have to work longer, so it is hardly surprising the government has chosen to kick the can down the road until after the general election’.

Running scared?

This latest news comes amid the Conservative Party refusing to guarantee a ‘triple lock’ on pensions if it is re-elected. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is ahead in the polls among voters under-40. And with 93% of students saying they’ve registered to vote, and with 55% of these saying they’ll vote Labour, it appears that the Tories are trying to ‘bury bad news’ from younger voters.

People have a right to know when they can expect to retire as soon as a decision has been reached. Because planning for retirement in the 21st century is crucial due to the necessity for a private pension. So it’s telling that Theresa May’s government would prefer to avoid a difficult decision that could affect its popularity. Maybe her “strong and stable” government isn’t quite as “stable” as she thinks.

Get Involved!

Register to vote in the 8 June general election. You can get a national insurance number by a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

Featured image via Flickr

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