Make ‘Back to 60’ a Key Election Issue!

Dozens of MPs have backed calls to compensate women affected by State Pension age changes. Credit: WASPI Facebook

Political parties are being urged to support the ‘Back to 60’ campaign, led by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), as the upcoming general election approaches.

In March 2024, a government watchdog called for the UK government to apologise and compensate women born in the 1950s/60s who were affected by the increase in the state pension age. These women, according to the report, are ‘owed’ money because the changes to the pension age were not communicated properly. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigated whether women were adequately informed of the rise in the state pension age to bring it in line with that of men.

The government responded by stating it would consider the report and respond in due course.  However, the ombudsman condemned the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for its stance, stating that the department has ‘clearly indicated it will refuse to comply’ with the pay out proposal, deeming this stance ‘unacceptable.’

Angela Madden, chair of the Waspi campaign, has stated that a solution needs to be started within the first 100 days of a new government.

A Government WatchDog Report Urges Action

The report, based on sample cases, suggests that compensation could range from £1,000 to £2,950 per woman. However, campaigners and some MPs argue that this amount is insufficient and believe the compensation should be around £10,000 per woman. The watchdog has urged Parliament to intervene, but the current government has reiterated that it will respond ‘in due course.’

Women affected by these changes continue to seek justice and adequate compensation for the financial hardships they have endured. The call for a fair resolution remains strong, with campaigners and affected individuals urging the UK’s political parties to announce a meaningful action plan.

Rapid Change Caused Hardship

Women were significantly affected by government decisions to increase the state pension age. Many expected to start receiving their pensions at 60, but the government raised the retirement age, moving the goalposts unexpectedly. The changes were introduced more rapidly than anticipated, and many women were notified of these changes with less than a year’s notice before their expected retirement age. Some women did not receive any notification at all.

This left some women with little time to prepare for the increase in their state pension age, resulting in financial losses. Until 2010, women started receiving their state pensions earlier than men, at age 60 instead of 65.  However, concerns about increasing life expectancy and rising pension costs prompted politicians to equalise the state pension age for men and women.

The Pensions Act 1995

The Pensions Act 1995 proposed gradually raising the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 over ten years, from April 2010 to April 2020. However, the Pensions Act 2011 accelerated these changes, making the state pension age 65 by November 2018. Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has been lobbying against what they see as inadequate notice about these changes through their Back to 60 campaign. They argue that the DWP did not inform those affected in time for them to make necessary plans.

Ophelia Smith, a 70-year-old woman now living on the Costa del Sol, shared her experience. “I got the worst of all worlds because I spent nine years working for the Civil Service in Gibraltar, where the pensionable age for women is 60. But because I spent more time working in the UK, I wasn’t able to obtain my Gibraltar pension until I was 65 as well. I guess the change of pensionable age has cost me about £30,000, so in some ways, to suggest compensation of between £1,000 and £2,950 is a bit mean. But considering I didn’t expect anything, that will pay for a pleasant holiday, so I’m not complaining unless I have to pay tax on it!”

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    • Maureen

      01 June 2024 • 15:15

      Waspi and back to 60 are totally different. Waspi women do not want the pension age to go back to 60.

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