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Pension changes are not that simple, says mother

MOTHER-OF-TWO Emma Ferguson is like millions of other people throughout the UK busy taking in the Government's pension changes.

LOSING OUT: Mother-of-two Emma Ferguson believes she will be worse off under the new pension scheme but feels she needs more information on the plans. Picture: Steve Cox
LOSING OUT: Mother-of-two Emma Ferguson believes she will be worse off under the new pension scheme but feels she needs more information on the plans. Picture: Steve Cox

The 33-year-old social worker, who is married with children aged three and six-months-old, said more information is needed to allow people to see whether they will be better or worse off under the pension changes.

However, she believes the move will see result in her losing money and has raised concerns over the length of time she will have to work to benefit from the full state pension.

Mrs Ferguson, who is currently off on maternity leave, said: "It's meant to be a simpler pension fund, but I don't think it's quite as straightforward as it should be.

"More information is needed so people can do their calculations as to how it's going to impact on them.

"I'm on a local authority final salary pension scheme and I'm not really sure what the outcome of that is going to be, so there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding my retirement."

She said there should be some benefit to having one set figure so people can budget, but claimed the proposals do not appear to be quite as straight-forward as that.

Under the new plans, everyone will have to work for 35 years instead of 30 to be entitled to a full state pension – a time period Mrs Ferguson fears may increase even further in the future.

She said: "I probably envisaged I would work for at least 35 years so I don't really feel that will affect me. I've worked since I was young and plan to work for a long time yet.

"However, 35 years is only the age they've set at the moment. I read that they plan to review it every five years, so it might be that in a few years I'll have to work even longer."

Overall, the mother believes she will be worse off under the new scheme as she has worked since leaving school and has no plans to take any extended time off to care for her children outwith normal maternity leave.

Mrs Ferguson, of Dunfermline in Fife, added: "From looking at it, it seems mothers caring for children longer term will be better off.

"For myself and the majority of working mothers who only take a year off, I don't think it will benefit us.

"The benefits will be for those women who choose to stop working longer term.

"I think I probably would have qualified for the second state pension under the current rules, although I'm not entirely clear what that is, so I'll probably lose out because I've worked for so long."

Frances O'Grady, the Trades Union Congress general secretary, said changes were necessary to the current system to help low-paid women workers and the self-employed.

But she said: "There are real problems about how those ends can be achieved and on what timescale. Today's pensioners will be angry they miss out on this reform and face continued threats to remove the winter fuel allowance and help with travel.

"The increases in the state pension age redistribute from poorer people with shorter life expectancies to the better-off who live longer.

"Millions of members of existing pension schemes will face higher national insurance payments from 2017 at a time when wages will have been stagnant for nearly a decade and living standards are down."

The SNP said analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed Coalition claims the move would help parents who took time out to look after their children were a "con".

The party's Work and Pensions spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, said: "In the long run workers who take time off for child care – principally women – and part-time workers will be worse off with these proposals."

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