Thousands of women (and men) made their voices heard outside Parliament in this afternoon’s demo day organised by the campaign group WASPI. The group are campaigning for fair transitional arrangements for the millions of women who’ve been affected by the rise(s) in the state pension age from 60 to 65, and then to 66.
Representatives from WASPI are due to meet Pensions Minister Ros Altmann this afternoon (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you all!).
So far, the issue of the state pension age rise and how it’s affected women has been debated several times in Parliament (either in the House of Commons or Westminster Hall). The Work and Pensions Select Committee has recommended that different options are costed (you can read more about this suggestion in my article entitled MPs say that 50s women could get early access to their state pension).
What was fantastic about the demo was that so many women (and some men) were there. I’m not good at estimating numbers in crowds, but I’d say there were a few thousand women there. There was also a lot of support from MPs from all parties, several of whom explained why they were supporting WASPI and how unfair they thought the rises in state pension age were.
On a personal level, it was lovely to meet some SavvyWoman users who are also WASPI supporters.
I’m doing to include a few of the stories I heard at the event – stories which will probably be very familiar to you if you’ve been affected by the state pension age rise or if you know someone who has.
Liz told me: “I received a letter at the age of 58 saying I’d be getting her state pension at the age of 62, but when I was 59 I find out I’d be 64 before I got my state pension and at 59 and a half I found out it would be 66. I’m OK because I have a works pension and I’m married but my sister is totally reliant on the state pension. I’ve paid in for 45 years and I think it’s disgraceful.”
Lynne told me: “I don’t recall getting any letters. At this moment in time I’m having to work because I can’t get my state pension. I was planning to retire at 63, but my pension won’t be paid until I’m 66.”
Mo told me: “I’ve joined the WASPI campaign because I knew about the first state pension age rise but I’ve now been told I cannot retire until I’m 65 years and 4 months. I am working longer. I’ve got people who I work with who are younger who should be taking my job but who can’t. I do agree we should come in line with the men, but I don’t think the state pension age rise should have been brought forward.”
Karen told me: “I joined WASPI not because I received a letter but because I’d read articles saying the state pension age was going up to 65, but then in 2011 I discovered it was going to be 66. I’ve had no formal notification and some women have not been given the time to make the necessary provision. In our generation we stayed at home to bring up our children. I worked at ICI but was not allowed to return part time after the birth of my daughter so I had to resign.”
Hilary told me: “I was born in September 1953 and I received a letter in 2008 saying I would have to wait for an extra 11 or 12 months for my pension and I heard nothing more. I was absolutely shocked to find out that I’d be 65 before I got my state pension. I can’t work anymore because I’ve injured my leg. I’ve tried to do some work but nobody wants to employ you when you can’t do things.”
Hilary (another one!) told me: “I’m currently 62 and when I was 59 I received a letter saying that my state pension age was going to rise to September 2018. That was 17 years after the original rise in state pensions was passed. I’d planned to retire at 60 with my husband who was 65. WASPI inspired and guided me to go and see my MP, Alison McGovern.”
Anne told me: “I took voluntary redundancy in 2007 because I thought I’d get my pension at 60 and my redundancy payment would tide me over until then. I didn’t realise until I had a letter from DWP, which I’d requested, saying I’d retire at 64 years and 11 months. Then in 2012 I had another letter to say I’d be 66 when I retired. I’ve also got a letter dated from 2005 which didn’t mention a pension date.”
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