Article by Sally Dowling
For all you ‘Fab after Fifty’ youngsters, let me explain the WASPI campaign, just in case it has passed you by.
I am not sure you will be ‘Still Smiling at Sixty’ once you realise what is happening to women’s pensions.
The WASPI campaign stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality and although we have tens of thousands of members across the UK, some women who are, or will be affected by the pension changes, are still not aware.
WASPI was started to try and persuade the government to make transitional financial arrangements to thousands of women who expected to receive their pension at 60, but with, in some cases, just a few years notice, have had to wait up to 6 extra years.
Contrary to what the government would have you believe, women born in the 1950’s were not given sufficient notice to make alternative plans for retirement and are now finding they have to work for much longer.
WASPI and pensions transition
WASPI is not against eventual equality between men and women’s pensions, but we object to the way the transition has been handled. A 6 year wait is a long time when you are in your sixties and may have been working since the age of 16. Imagine the fuss if men had been dealt this blow.
Single women are particularly affected, and some are being brought to severe poverty if they are unable to work due to health or family issues.
Keep in mind – we have all paid our National Insurance stamp for many years, well over the 37 years needed to qualify for our state pension. To have the rules changed at such a late stage and the rug pulled from under our feet, is totally unacceptable. Personally I have lost in the region of at least £36,000, which is 6 years of pension payments.
On top of losing so much money, most of the ladies affected have been refused bus passes which were originally handed out at age 60. The majority of UK councils have decided to link the bus pass age with retirement age, so we have to wait. BUT, not so if you are lucky to live in certain areas with more benevolent councils – such as Greater London. London still grants transport passes to anyone over 60. How can the country be so divided?
So here I am, along with many others, discovering the world of politics, something I didn’t think I would ever do! I find myself watching BBC Parliament as numerous debates on the subject in the Commons and the Lords, all take place, sadly with no immediate action but keeping our plight in the public eye. Ironically 2018 is the 100 year anniversary of women getting the vote – maybe chaining to railings is the only way…
Notice given in 1995 – were you aware?
Thankfully we have cross party support and if there was to be a vote that actually counted for something, then our cause would undoubtedly win. But at the moment the Government is refusing to acknowledge us, stating that we all had adequate notice back in 1995 in the form of TV coverage and media features…Well I didn’t see any of this information and nor did thousands like me.
WASPI have raised funds to instruct Bindmans, a leading London law firm, to fight our cause. In order to prove maladministration by the Government we WASPI women have all been sending a series of letters, firstly to the Department of Works & Pensions and then to ICE (Independent Case Administrators) in order to bring our plight to the attention of the Ombudsman who we hope will intervene.
What to do if you are affected
So, if you are affected by these changes to state pensions, or know someone who is, please tell them about the WASPI cause and urge them to join a local action group. Local groups are springing up all over the country, often with local MP’s supporting their constituents.
For more information see www.waspi.co.uk.