In the House of Commons, it is stories about real people’s lives that bring a hush to the Chamber.
So it was last week. Yvette Cooper spoke about the impact of Government policies upon women.
She described Michelle, a single parent and Open University student, working part time in a bank to support her family. Michelle’s fares are going up and her childcare tax credit going down. She will be forced, by economic necessity, to give up work and she is very angry.
Local women tell similar stories. Rising costs in childcare, food, travel and rent are making things harder for young families.
Older women, too, contact me, angered by Government proposals to reforms the pension age.
The Government’s Pensions Bill proposes accelerating equalisation of women’s State Pension Age. If these proposals proceed, retirement age for women will increase to 65 by 2018. It will then increase again, for both men and women, to 66 by 2020: six years earlier than previously planned.
This would make 300,000 women wait an additional 18 months, or longer, to receive their state pension, leaving them no time to save, or to prepare, for the change.
The Coalition agreement promised the state pension age for women would not start to increase to 66 until 2020.
I remain hopeful, we can force the Government to change its mind on pensions.
This chaotic Coalition weekly demonstrates how disunited it is, with regular and welcome U-turns and rethinks.
Let’s keep up the pressure. Let me know your stories, so I can tell this Government to turn again on pensions, the NHS and so much more. Sadly, nothing is safe in their hands.