I am supporting a group of women, born in the 1950s, who I believe have been unfairly treated by a late move to change their state pension age.
Under an equality directive, this change – voted through in the last parliament – sought to bring women’s retirement age in line with men’s. Sounds fair but retrospectively applying this principle to women born in the 50s who will have lived and made choices in decades past hallmarked by inequality of pay and of opportunity is not right to me. I understand that women born between March 1953 and 1955 are particularly hard hit having had their retirement age deferred not once but twice.
There are also credible doubts around how effectively the Department of Work and Pensions communicated these significant changes to state pension to the women who would be affected. Some women have had wrong advice, some no communication. For those who did receive notice, it gave far fewer years lead time than the current requirement of 10 years.
These women have not had the time to prepare for such a change and many will not have a private pension or have worked the years required for a full occupational pension as they were caring for children and supporting husbands or partners in their careers. This means they are relying on that state pension.
One estimate suggests over 4000 women in Eastbourne & Willingdon are affected by the new rules with some told they cannot claim a state pension until they reach 66, a six year jump.
I don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to ‘win’ meaningful new concessions but that doesn’t diminish how important this campaign is. The work and pensions select committee proposed a range of mitigating options – all must be considered and some consensus found on the way forward.
A local WASPI group has been formed and will be meeting in early September. Would you like to know more, join or just be kept up to date? Contact my office for more details.
In October, alongside MPs from across the political spectrum, I will present a petition to the House of Commons calling for transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s (going forward, no one is contesting the principle of bringing equality to men and women’s pension age).
I have this petition available to sign in my office at 42 Grove Road, and you are welcome to pop in any weekday to sign. You can also download the petition form here and get more information here. Completed sheets need to be returned to me by the end of September.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you, or friends and family are affected by this issue.
The picture is taken at the recent WASPI demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament.
Member since: 11th May 2016
Caroline is the the former MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, and this blog was one of her her regular updates.