Andrew Neil confronted Jeremy Corbyn earlier this week on spending plans outlined in the Labour Party manifesto. The BBC veteran broadcaster grilled the Labour leader on the billions of taxpayers’ money he is using to fund his major nationalisation policies and his latest proposal to compensate the WASPI women with their pensions. On Thursday, Mr Neil further questioned Labour candidate Lucy Powell on the policy, saying people on a state pension earning £14,000 a year paying just £9 in tax could end up paying £400 in taxes under Labour’s proposals.
Speaking on BBC’s Politics Live, Mr Neil began: “People on modest incomes will be paying more tax. The individual circumstances of these people are all different, what we do know is that they will lose, they’ll be paying £250 more in tax. Correct? Is that right?”
Ms Powell replied: “Anyone who is worried about it, we’ve got a fantastic tax and spend calculator on our website, people can go in onto that.“
The BBC host interjected: “Well they can and if they do that they’ll see that they’ll lose £250. There’s another way in which they lose £250 which I put to Mr Corbyn.
“Which is someone who’s on a state pension, about £8,700, they had a little pension of £4,000 as well, and then they had a small investment income of £2,000.
“At the moment they pay about £9 in tax, under your Government and proposals they would pay £400. These are people on £14,000 a year, and Mr Corbyn said ‘I’m not quite sure your calculations are right’. What bit of it was wrong?”
The Labour MP said: “Well look I’m not going to have a re-run of your interview with Jeremy.”
Mr Neil hit back: “But it goes to the heart of the issue that it is a lot more than just the top five percent.”
Ms Powell replied: “It isn’t a lot more than just the top five percent. The great burden of this, as it is fully identified in our manifesto, and I don’t think the IFS or the Resolution Foundation are arguing with the fact that we have fully costed these measures and where the tax will come from. I think what the issue is is whether that political choice is one that the IFS agree with.”
During Andrew Neil’s set of individual interviews with party leaders, Mr Corbyn refused to answer several times how he would find the £60 billion to compensate the WASPI women – however, he did eventually concede it would be funded from further borrowing.
Previously, the state pension age was 60 for women and 65 for men, but under the Pensions Act 1995 and the Pensions Act 2011, the state pension age for women has risen to become in-line with men – reaching 65 in November 2018 ahead of further increases.
There are a number of campaign groups who oppose the changes to the state pension age for women, with those affected being women born in the 1950s. The WASPI campaign opposes how the changes were introduced, but the campaign group support the principle of state pension equalisation.
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Ahead of the General Election 2019, party manifestos have been launched. The Labour Party has pledged support for women affected by the state pension age changes.
The manifesto states: “Under the Tories, 400,000 pensioners have been pushed into poverty and a generation of women born in the 1950s have had their pension age changed without fair notification. This betrayal left millions of women with no time to make alternative plans – with sometimes devastating personal consequences.
“Labour recognises this injustice, and will work with these women to design a system of recompense for the losses and insecurity they have suffered. We will ensure that such an injustice can never happen again by legislating to prevent accrued rights to the state pension from being changed.”
The Liberal Democrats also pledged to ensure that women affected by the state pension age changes are “properly compensated”, adding that this would be “in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsman”.
The manifesto commitment on support for pensioners read: “We will: Retain the Triple Lock on the basic state pension, so that it rises in line with the highest of wages, prices or 2.5 per cent.
“Ensure that the women born in the 1950s are properly compensated for the failure of government to properly notify them of changes to the state pension age, in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsman. Address continuing inequalities in pensions law for those in same-sex relationships.”