Many women born in the 1950s have been angered by raises to the age at which they’re able to qualify for the state pension. Now, many have decided to take the fight to the politicians.
Since 2015, the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign has fought for compensation over how changes to the state pension age were communicated to them.
Many see this as a fight for justice about wider workplace inequality that had dogged this generation of women throughout their working lives.
From 1948 until less than a decade ago, men received their state pensions at 65 and women at 60. However, over the years this was the subject of considerable debate because women have a longer life expectancy than men. It was thought that it was unjust for women to receive a state pension for far longer than men.
In 1995, the Conservative government drew up a timetable to equalise the age at which men and women could draw their state pension. Importantly, they did not begin sending letters personally informing women of the 1995 act until 2009 and many Waspi women claim they have never received a letter.
The coalition government then decided to accelerate the timetable to make savings on the amount it spent on the state pension. They introduced the 2011 Pensions Act, which brought forward the new qualifying age of 65 for women, to 2018. These changes affected about 2.6 million women, meaning they had to quickly adapt to a longer working life.
The government estimated that accelerating the timetable saved £30 billion.
Additionally, 300,000 women born between December 1953 and October 1954 were nearly approaching retirement, yet had to wait an extra 18 months. This came as a severe shock, especially to those who never received their DWP letter in 2009. They complained they had not been given sufficient time to adapt to the new retirement age and had to work longer than they had initially planned.
The Waspi campaign doesn’t ask for the state pension age to be revised to 60 for women. Instead, they want compensation for the “unfair” way that the changes were introduced.
Remember, remember the 6th of November
6 November 2018 was the date from which both women and men have to be 65 before they can claim their state pension. Although, in theory, this means there is now “equality” around retirement age, a generation of women planned their life around a retirement age of 60 only to find the government had moved the goalposts.
While it’s clear that the government needs to save on its annual budget for state pensions – currently 12% of the budget and nearly £94 billion – women have been caught off guard and not had enough time to plan for the changes.