LABOUR’S shadow chancellor John McDonnell was left squirming after ITV’s Robert Peston challenged him on Labour’s controversial £58billion pledge to WASPI women.
Labour has promised to compensate women born in the 1950s who were impacted by a dramatic state pension age change with a huge £58billion fund. This has raised controversy, as the pledge was not costed by the Labour Party. During an interview with Robert Peston last night, John McDonnell hit back at claims that the £58billion could have been better spent elsewhere.
Peston grilled the senior Labour figure on his party’s offer to WASPI women.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) argue they should be reimbursed for the thousands they have missed out on after paying into the system for years.
Peston said: “You promised £58billion to helping those women born in the 1950s whose pensions were delayed.
“Quite a lot of that money will go to people with perfectly decent standards of living and incomes.”
He continued: “Like Theresa May who will be getting £30,000 from a Labour Government.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor responded: “That will be dealt with by a progressive taxation.
“This is not about benefits, this is about entitlement.”
Peston suggested the other benefits freezes “were just as unexpected for those groups as the pensioners”.
Jeremy Corbyn’s strong ally hit back: “That is why we are ending the benefits freeze.”
Peston said: “But you’re not correcting all the losses – I’m just asking about choices.
“Why didn’t you allocate any of £58billion to younger, poorer households?”
Mr McDonnell said: “We are ending the benefits freeze, scrapping the bedroom tax, making sure those on Universal Credit don’t have to wait five weeks.”
Peston responded: “But the IFS have pointed out you are not reversing austerity in those areas.”
Mr McDonnell has been targeted on his party’s WASPI pledge several times in the past week.
Earlier this week, Sky News host Kay Burley hit out at Labour’s “magic money tree”.
He was involved in a heated debate with BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning as he was quizzed on the uncosted pledge.