They didn’t want us to Know! 50’s Women and their pensions…..
We hear on a regular basis that it was up to us women to find out for ourselves if our pension age had changed, I can’t help but wonder why. I ask of them Why would any of us question a law that had been passed in 1948 that women retired at 60? We would have no reason to question it, except governments, both Labour and conservatives have kept very quiet about this change in the law, it was sneaky, is was misleading and in my view was hushed up, they didn’t want us to know.
So, we began our working lives paying into a system we trusted, now need to question that either, the National Insurance Scheme was there for all of us, young and old, we all paid into this insurance and some of us have needed to take some out when they have become ill or unemployed, and of course none of us begrudged pensions for the oldies, this was society, this was community, we all helped each other out. We were also aware that a percentage of these contributions were paid to the NHS, again we have no concerns with that, we have ALL needed the NHS at one time or another, what a blessing it is there for all.
So all our lives we contributed, our employers contributed, our parents, our sisters and brothers all contributed to the system. Self-employed workers received their Self-Assessments/Tax Returns through the post, mum’s were informed of changes to the child Benefit, Pensioners and Benefit Claimants received letters to inform them of any changes to their payments, on the whole communications were good and later on of course Tax Credit renewals turned up on our doorsteps, and even later on adverts blazed through the television screen reminding everyone to get their tax credit renewals in on time, likewise the self assessments. All good, then of course came Workie the furry monster and his word about the Work Place Pension, now we can’t escape these adverts, they are everywhere.
So women with over 45 years of contributions under their belt are becoming aware that actually the expectation to retire at 60 is indeed wrong, we have recently found out that our pension has been delayed by 6 whole years, now who did this come about?
Women have been blamed for not paying attention, we have been told that we have ‘breezed’ through life, that we should have planned and that we should have made enquiries about our pensions. Actually I would like to prove that in actual fact it was not our fault that we didn’t find out until a couple of years from our expected retirement age.
So, lets look at the facts shall we?
In 1993 the Chancellor at the time, Ken Clarke, put it to his 80% male government that they need to do something about the pension age, they had 3 choices, 1. pension at 60 for men and women, 2. pension at 63 for men and women, or 3. 65 for women, clearly we know what the mainly male government chose. They used the term equality, clearly by making women wait longer for their pensions was far from making things equal, whereas both other options would have been fair, and used the excuse that the EU wanted us to conform to equality rules despite many other EU countries not conforming and pension age is not an EU issue but a country by country issue.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it, and that is what this issue is based on because the government never had the common decency to notify any of us of this change in law in 1995, nor they let us know in 1996, 1997….shall I go on? So as we still received all the notices described above, government did not once bother to notify us of something that would change our worlds in the coming years, something as important as a 5 year hike in pension age was not communicated, but a friends increase of 1p in her benefit was, so you see how this worries me and how I arrive at the assumption that governments did not want us to know. And indeed look at the newspaper clip where Ken Clarke is quoted as saying that he “delayed making the announcement because it would be unpopular with women” Too right it would have been unpopular with women except we were not privy to this information, deliberately kept in the dark. Women were not important enough to the government, we were less important than that 1p rise in benefit.
So let’s look at the evidence shall we? Having completed surveys on the #WePaidInYouPayOut group of over 4000 members there were but a couple of members who had seen it in the newspapers but because of the sketchy nature of the information felt it did not apply to them, I the archives and in governments own evidence that they did notify us, they use a few lines on the front page of The Times where it clearly states that “women’s pension age to rise to 65 in 2020” well most of us would have been retired by then, so even those that did catch a glimpse of this city gents newspaper have every right to disregard the information. But I have to say that the majority of the group seriously had no idea of the changes, me? I found out 2 years before I reached 60, this was not through any education programme provided by the government but on social media as the word was getting out.
The thing is that government have been forced to provide evidence of the way they informed us of these changes and I’m sorry but its laughable, except it’s not funny, government talk about the education programme, the TV ads, the leaflets, the forecasts, the newspapers, it is an absolute farce.
Leaflets were produced yes in 2012, 17 years after the change in law, they were not sent out to women, they were in job centres, in post offices, so they say, only one member of our group actually saw one of these, letters were sent out to everyone who would be affected in 2012/13 again my members didn’t receive these, they claim that those who didn’t receive them must have changed their contact details, yet tax credits, self assessments, child benefit, benefit changes, P45, P60’s still received….. the government appear to be proud that they provided pension forecasts, but these were sought by would-be pensioners, these were not just sent out to inform them of age change, and the letters I have seen are what I would call a shambles, some have received letters stating pension age 60, then 62 and then 66, how on earth are these women supposed to know what is going on if the pensions department are messing up, look at the You Gov website still showing women’s pension at 60 in 2016, talk to the DWP workers who know full well that the department did nothing to inform us would-be pensioners. Just look at the newspapers they used as part of their education programme, The Times, The Financial Times, The Scotsman, The Herald, buried deep in the financial pages of the newspapers, these are not working class papers, and look at the page numbers and see if this realistically is something women in the 1990’s bringing up their children would actually be reading, it was selective reading in my book, a selective audience who would not spread the word. I repeat ‘they did not want us to know’ I have sought evidence of women’s newspapers (they didn’t exist then but Richard Harrington seems to think they informed us through this media) and women’s magazines I have yet to receive a positive response from any that there was any evidence of governments change to women’s pension ever published.
And to insult us even further we have found the TV advertisement that government made that was supposed to inform us of changes of pension age, a dog running round in circles while sheep look on confused, stating that if we are confused about our pensions options then get our ‘impartial’ leaflet, options, what does this even mean? It now turns out that this ad was for private pensions, not state pension and according to a Freedom of Information question, we find that no TV ads were ever used in their ‘education programme.
We had no options, we were born in the 50’s we were treated as women, second class citizens, the housewife at home, we weren’t invited into workplace or private pensions, our only path to retirement pension the state pension which we paid into financially when we were working over 45 + years, we also paid a price of giving up our careers to care for our children, our elderly, our husbands while they pursued their own and built their own pension pot, women sacrificed a lot just being women, we had to fight for fair pay and continue to do so, and this government failed their duty to inform us of something that would change our future like nothing else.
I rest my case.