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A LEADING member of the Alliance Party has called on the Government to introduce measures to combat what, she says is, the “alarming increase” of women who live in poverty after retirement.

Councillor Eileen Bell, who is a North Down shadow assembly member, made the claim after an Equal Opportunities Commission report revealed that thousands of retired women across Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom were living in poverty.

The shadow assemblywoman, in welcoming the report, said it was now time for the government to introduce “significant” pension schemes for women working in low-paid and part-time jobs.

And Mrs. Bell, who is the Alliance Party’s spokesperson on women’s issues, said the government should also make moves to incorporate organisations such as the EOC into the equality commission of Northern Ireland.

“I welcome the report from the EOC and I hope it encourages the government to introduce measures to combat this terrible problem,” said the Alliance Party chairperson.

“It is disgraceful that women – just because they are in part-time or low paid jobs – cannot look forward to their retirement. There is no reason why they should be forced to live a life of poverty after working for so long.

“The report released by the EOC underlines the fact that there is an urgent need for the government to incorporate the policies of various equality organisations.

“Reports like the one released by the EOC are a constant reminder of the problems which women face in the latter stages of the 20th century and this must not be allowed to continue.

“I think that now is the time for the government to help retired women who are living in poverty. All women have a democratic right to look forward to their retirement,” added Mrs. Bell.