The WASPI state pension campaign group latest action – what’s going on? Here’s an update on what WASPI is planning – including news of a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on Budget day?
WASPI demo on Budget Day
WASPI (which stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality) is planning a demonstration outside parliament on Budget day, which is 8th March.
The protest starts at 1pm and you can find out more details on the WASPI website.
WASPI legal challenge update
WASPI’s crowdjustice campaign earlier this year to raise money for a possible legal challenge, raised £100,000. The law firm that WASPI have instructed, Bindmans, have produced a guide to making a maladministration complaint against the DWP. If you haven’t already done this, WASPI encourages you to do so.
There’s information on what to do on the WASPI action page that I linked to earlier (it’s about halfway down the page).
WASPI local groups
WASPI now has over 145 local groups. If you’d like to find out about a local group near you, or would like to set one up, there’s information on how to do this on the WASPI website.
What is WASPI calling for?
WASPI has always said that it’s not calling for the state pension age to be lowered to 60 again for women. However, what it does want is for women born in the 1950s effectively to get their state pension at 60. This would be in the form of a non-means tested transitional payment.
The government has said it can’t afford the payment. It’s true it would be a lot of money – billions of pounds. The House of Commons research briefing says that reversing the cost of the rise in state pension age to 66 – not 65 – would be £30 billion. The cost of paying women born in the 1950s a transitional state pension would be considerably higher.
My view is government spending is all about priorities. It may be simplistic to look at other areas of spending and say that the money could be spent elsewhere, but I will quote two examples. The cost of HS2 (high speed rail 2) is estimated to be anything from £32 billion to over £55 billion, and the lifetime cost of renewing Trident is estimated to be anything from £23 billion initially to up to £100 billion over its lifetime.
I do think it’s reasonable for the government to look at the options and consider what it can commit to. I don’t think it’s reasonable for the government to flat out refuse to talk about the issue of the state pension age rise and to parrot lines about women doing better than ever because they’re living longer and getting their state pension for longer. That hugely misses the point – in my opinion.
There’s no doubt in my mind that successive governments have failed these women. The Conservative government that was in power until 1997 for passing the law in 1995 (the Pensions Act) to increase the state pension age for women to 65 without committing to a proper programme of informing women in advance (or indeed, understanding the true impact).
The Labour governments that were in power from 1997 to May 2010 also failed women born in the 1950s by not writing to them to tell them their state pension age was changing and what it was changing to.
The coalition government that was in power between 2010 and 2015 also failed these women – spectacularly – by speeding up the rise in the state pension age to 66, which meant hundreds of thousands of women would see their state pension age rise to 65, then 66 at the same time.
What is also true is that women have been treated pretty shabbily by parts of the state pension system for many years, and – regarding this particular issue – most of the women affected were not told when they would get their state pension. If they were told, it was too late for them to do anything about it.
The current pensions minister, Richard Harrington, says he has no plans to meet the WASPI campaign group. I think he should.
Non-WASPI state pension age action groups
There are a number of other groups that have formed to campaign against the lack of notice for the rise in state pension age.
These include WASPI Voice (which was formed by three of the original members of WASPI, who left or were pushed out, depending on who you talk to). It describes itself as the platform to discuss fair transitional arrangements. It is more open to compromise on a solution than WASPI is.
Another group is 63 is the new 60, which is campaigning for a compromise state pension age of 63 for women, rising to 66 for women and men in 2023.
Several of the non-WASPI state pension age groups held a march in central London on February 21st.
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