THE pension system is in “absolute chaos” and “on the brink of crisis”, said a senior Labour politician during a visit to Broadgreen Community Centre.

Debbie Abrahams MP, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, met residents in Swindon yesterday to discuss pensions, social care and other such issues.

It was part of a nationwide tour to gain a better understanding of how people’s lives have been affected by government policy and how Labour can help people as they get older.

On her seventh stop so far, Ms Abrahams said: “I’m here today to talk about the pension system, an area in absolute chaos and on the brink of crisis at the moment.

“It’s made worse because the health service and the social care system are also in crisis.

“I think it’s important to find out what we can do for people in terms of addressing the problems.”

Among other things, Ms Abrahams spoke of the issues surrounding employment as people get older.

She said: “If you are out of work as an older person, it can be very difficult to get back into work.

“For example, you may find yourself having to care for someone. My mum had Alzheimer’s and I was caring for her while my daughters were still at school.”

One woman who went along to take part in the discussion was 59-year-old Julie Nipress, a member of the WASPI campaign which “fights the injustice” done to women born in the 1950s who have been affected by the recent changes in state pension law.

Under the Pensions Act 1995, the State Pension Age for women was increased from 60 to 65, the same as men’s.

The campaign group states: “WASPI agrees with equalisation, but does not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented.”

Julie said: “One of the issues for me is notification. A lot of women were not notified properly before the changes came in and people’s plans have had to be drastically changed. I’m not against the change, I just think it should have been implemented gradually.”

Over the past two decades, the average age of retirement has increased for both genders – men from 63 to 65 and women from 60 to 63.

And the state pension age is due to increase for men and women to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

However, earlier this year the government accepted the recommendation that the state pension age increase should be brought forward to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

This move was described by Ms Abrahams as “madness” and “deeply unfair”.

One issue surrounding the requirement to keep working was the fact that there would be fewer jobs for younger people just starting out in employment.

Julie said: “We are blocking all these young people who want to get into work, and we don’t think that’s fair.”

But North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson hit back at Ms Abraham’s claims that the pension and health care system was in crisis.

He said: “It’s absolute nonsense to keep claiming everything is in crisis all the time.

“As a government we have rightly protected and supported pensioners with the Triple Lock, which delivered an increase of £1,200 per year in contrast to the miserable 50p rise under Gordon Brown.”

Ms Abrahams' fact finding tour of the country continues.