Welcome to Aylesbury Labour Party's latest campaign initiative. Over the next few weeks we will be announcing local actions in Aylesbury to campaign against the injustice of Women Pension arrangements. This Campaign is nationally known as WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality.
WASPI was formed in April 2015 to campaign for women born on or after 6th April 1951 who have had their State Pension age (SPA) increased, in many cases twice. WASPI are not opposed to pension equalisation with men, but the way the changes have been implemented.
In the 1995 Pension Act Women’s State Pension age was set to gradually rise to 65 between 2010 and 2020 to equalise with mens. In the 2011 Pension Act a second increase was set, this was to gradually increase both men and womens State Pension age to 66 between 2018 and 2020, this was despite the government’s election promise in 2010 that this would not begin to happen before 2020.
These changes resulted in this cohort of women, losing up to £37,000.
The majority of WASPI members have around 40 years National Insurance contributions, now, after a lifetime of work they are forced to rely on partners or - £70 per week Job Seekers Allowance as their only income. Others have no income as the State Pension is recognised as being the main source of income for this generation of women.
Freedom of information responses show that the government did not begin to write to any of the women affected by the 1995 Pension changes until at least 2009. This was a gap of 14 lost years, they could have been making financial plans to compensate for the loss of their SP had they known earlier. Some women have never received any notification at all.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) individually notify everyone already in receipt of a State Pension of any change or increase, yet the DWP did not take steps to ensure that the 1950s women were appropriately notified with sufficient notice of the significant, life changing loss of their State Pension.
The government now widely advertise the importance of planning for retirement, compulsory schemes are in place to prevent anyone in the future finding themselves in our position. Workplace Pensions, Nest etc, we hear it every day. Did they not have a duty of care to do this for this group of Women?
The 1950s generation of women are used to discrimination they were excluded from company pension schemes until the mid 1990s, either because only men were eligible, or because they were part time staff. Some worked full time from the late 60s onwards, after having children resumed work but was excluded from the company pension schemes.
Below is a sample story from a woman affected, showing the consequences of increasing the State Pension age of the 1950s women before the workplace is ready to accept an older workforce.
Single, age 62 with 43 years of NI contributions, made redundant a year ago.
She has already had to move from her 2 bedroom cottage into a 1 bedroom flat (with a higher rent) due to the bedroom tax
She has to claim Job Seekers Allowance, £70 per week to live on, bills, food, clothes, everything.
Her 2am Facebook posts show her desperate situation, she fears homelessness after a lifetime at work.
Shame on the government, putting women in their 60s in this position.
The Job Centre referred her to Seetec who provide the “Work Programme” to avoid sanctions she has to attend 3 or 4 days a week and complete hundreds of job applications. She has been asked to take qualifications and education history off her CV in order to hide her capabilities and age. One afternoon she was asked to compete in two teams to do the most job applications, prizes of a £5 supermarket voucher and for the “ winners” and bags of sweets for the “losers”! how humiliating at age 63.
"I heard through the grapevine that my State Pension age had increased from 60 to 62, then two years before I was due to retire I found out that the age had risen again.I would not be able to retire until I was 66. I didn't receive any information about the changes. I'm in the middle of a divorce, I'm in chaos, I work as a waitress on a zero hours contract, no security. I have enquired about benefits but I'm not entitled to anything, I think it's because, I can't say what my expected income is, or how many hours I will be working. Even if I was with my husband, I wouldn't have a guaranteed regular income in my own right, which would mean depending on him. Being single is worse as I have no support. It's wrong that my State Pension can be taken away from me like this without the recommended 10 years notice, just because of the year I was born."