I write as a member of the above group of nearly 4,000men and women supporting our fight for justice regarding state pension increases.
The Burning Injustice of the Women’s State Pension Age Increase.
Attention PM Theresa May
As our research proves, most women did not receive notification of any kind regarding the 1995 state pension age increase. There were a few who had taken the step to seek a pension forecast and they received the accompanying leaflet ‘Understanding your State Pension forecast”. It is clear that these leaflets were not designed for general mail-shots and were published in 2005 – 10 years after the 1995 Act was passed.
Freedom of Information provided us with copies of other leaflets dating from 2004 (9 years after the 1995 Act was passed) these were not forwarded to those affected by the change. There is video testimony from a senior worker and written testimony from a woman whose job it was to restock the leaflets working in benefits offices and HMRC who had never seen these leaflets in circulation. Freedom of Information and the DWP are unable to provide copies of any leaflets nearer the time the 1995 Act was passed.
We have produced a booklet from our 4000+ members stating that they had never seen any leaflet, they are many.
It is Government’s duty to inform pensioners and benefit claimants of any Parliamentary changes to their payments, but Government failed its duty in this case. It neglected to inform thousands of women that their pension would be delayed by 6 years, that they would lose the value of their pension by 6 years, yet we all received our NI demands, our self-assessment forms, our child benefit changes and our Tax Credit renewal forms. Surely something that was going to have such a massive effect on women and their entire families in the long-term deserves a little more respect. It certainly requires personal notification even if it is just out of common courtesy.
Our research also proves that Government relied heavily on the fact that word might get around via the ‘buried’ paragraphs in newspapers such as the Financial Times, which of course the working class women would not have read, if we read any newspapers at all it would have been the tabloids and there was nothing to be seen in these papers as far as research has proved. We did not have the time or the money to sit around reading expensive newspapers. It is clear that the government failed in its idea that a simple announcement buried in a broadsheet newspaper would be good enough to let us know.
We received copies of all these newspaper clips and leaflets from a Freedom of Information request, and our research finds that they are misleading, some state that pension equality will happen IN 2020, others that women’s pension age will rise BY 2020, and others FROM 2020. The Chancellor of the time failed to mention women’s pension age increase in his speech, instead he talked about pension equality. Indeed he is quoted as saying in 1993 when the issue was debated in Parliament, that he would delay making an announcement because it “would be unpopular with women”. He was right, except we were never informed and it has taken all these years for us to find out and, no it is not popular with women! Not only were we left in the dark, but even those who requested pension forecasts and the general public who did read the newspapers used to share the information, they were completely and utterly misled.
Newspapers and leaflets state that the pension age will rise ‘slowly’ ‘gradually’ ‘over 10 years’ from 2010-2020. We had no idea what an impact this would have on us when women born between 1950 and 1953/4 see their pensions rise by months and those thereafter bear the brunt of the full 5 years. This is horrific, all born in the same decade, some women wait an extra month, some a couple of years, and all those born after 1954 take the full brunt of the attack. This is unforgivable, divisive and discriminatory. Ladies in the same year at school can be quite literally years apart in pension age. This has to be the most unfair Act in any Country’s history. This really is a mess isn’t it. It really goes to show the utter contempt the present and past Governments have for us women who have done nothing wrong, have done the right thing all their lives.
This is pure discrimination against women. Women are being disadvantaged by this act. Not only are they losing years of healthy retirement, they are losing the value of their pensions they paid into. Their husbands are retiring before them and if they are unable to work, they have become dependent on their husbands for money. And those living on their own are even worse off.
But the worst of it all? Women worked hard all their lives, in the home, outside the home, in schools, in libraries, in kitchens, in laundries, and gave their time freely to the community when it was needed, we also looked after our own children, our husbands, our elderly. Women have fought discrimination all their lives, fought for equal rights, equal pay, been downtrodden in menial jobs, not offered occupational pension, couldn’t afford private pension, on low wages, part time employment, while looking after their family young and old, putting their careers on hold, whilst their husbands can pursue their careers. Single women choosing career of having a family, similar jobs but less pay to men.
Often women were denied a return to work because they have children, been denied employment in case they decide to have children, asked about family planning at interviews and even sacked because they were pregnant.
This inequality may have improved slowly over the years but as we all know, the Gender Pay Gap is not going away, it is still there in our society, in Tesco, in the BBC, we have NEVER been equal and to throw the equalization card at women at the time of life they are expecting to retire is downright cruel.
Governments have used EU directives to impose this inequality to women, but all they have EVER said is that EU countries should work towards equality. Other countries are doing this in a timely manner, in a kind manner, slowly, gradually, other countries have simply ignored the EU directive, others have reduced women’s pension ages, there was no EU directive that forced Governments to enforce such a cruel regime on women who have done nothing wrong.
In the name of equality men fought this injustice in 1993 and wanted their pensions equal to women at the age of 60. Instead Government decided that men could receive pension credit, bus passes, winter fuel allowance at the age of 60 rather than reduce pension age, this meant that men could take part-time hours and some even retired early due to this decision.
At the time of debating this issue in Parliament, MP’s had 3 choices, (bearing in mind that at the time 80% of MPs were male as the equality in parliament was a million miles away and it was these men who decided our fate).
They could choose from a) men and women to retire at 60, b) men and women to retire at 63, c) women to meet men’s pension age at 65. We all know the result and many women are asking “Why us? Why our age group? Why do we carry the brunt of change?” These questions are justified. Why did men make a decision on our future in the name of equality that didn’t exist? (still doesn’t exist) Why 50’s women? I wonder if Government thought that by the time we found out that it affected us we’d be too weak to fight. Regrettably for this government, we are still here and we are still fighting for what is right.
Without a thought for us women and to add insult to injury Government slapped on a further year in the name of a ‘sharp increase in life expectancy’ in the 2011 Act when we are actually seeing a decline in mortality is outrageous.
This is no longer a political issue, it has become a humanitarian issue, a human rights issue. The basic human right to food – women in their 60’s are going to foodbanks, having to choose whether to eat or heat their homes, The basic right to shelter,- women are having to sell their homes to survive. The basic right to enjoy our belongings, women are selling their belongings they worked so hard to pay for in order to buy food. The basic right to dignity – women are having to prove they are worthy of social security, forced to claim ESA/JSA/UC, being sanctioned for not doing enough to find work, when they should be receiving their pension. The basic right to provision in their retirement – human rights have been abandoned. Women deserve more, women have saved the taxpayer £millions in their free care for children, in their free care for their partners, for their elderly, for their volunteering roles in the Community.
The High Street is suffering as women in their 60’s usually retired have no money to spend, social care, elderly care they are all suffering, the taxpayer funded childcare, these tasks were all taken on by women pensioners, they were happy to do this, it is our job in life to care for others, this has been snatched away, our families are suffering as a consequence, the basic right to family life for these women and indeed their families.
A pension is NOT a benefit, it is deferred payment, we paid in, our employers paid in, we’ve paid for our elders and now we pay for our peers too who were born in the same decade, we paid our National Insurance contributions for our pensions. We paid in enough to justify our pensions at the time we expected to receive them. We kept our side of this contract, whether it be social or legal contract, we continue to pay into the system which promised us our pensions at 60, married women even signed a declaration that we would pay standard rate of NI in order to retire at 60 in our own right.
I am actually disgusted in the way this government is treating us 50’s women, ignoring our plight, turning a blind eye, not listening to our needs, we have created a book which was presented at your door at No 10 and this too was ignored and simply passed to DWP as a petition and who had already received a copy. This issue needs to be addressed with immediate effect.
If we lived on the continent we would have been treated with the respect we deserve, no other country would even consider treating their elderly the way this Government continues to treat us and our elders, the worst pension in Europe, the sharp increase in pension age, the destitution, the fear, the worry, the lack of respect for women who have done everything right all through their lives.
Being a 50’s woman Mrs May, but because you are wealthy it doesn’t affect you, I would have hoped you might find some empathy towards your sisters born in the same decade.
I think you realize you have a battle on your hands. We women will not accept it, we will not go away.
I ask that you meet with the 6 women from our group of 4000 members who came to No 10 to present you with our book to discuss how we can move on from this situation, in a calm and orderly manner, we need to find a solution to this problem sooner rather than later.
Women are not facing an 18 month delay in pensions, they are facing a gruelling 6 year wait before they can collect their pensions
This issue affects 3.5 million women who have husbands, children, nieces and nephews, all of whom could show their feelings at the ballot box in May.
We fellow 50’s women look forward to hearing your comments.
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Hear hear! I wholeheartedly agree with the above. How much did it cost to bomb Syria last night Mrs. May? There is always money for war but the money that we paid in for our pensions (that should still be there for our pensions) we are told is not available. Shame on you who claim to represent and look after the common people. You may think the 1950’s women would be easy targets but we will not go away quietly. How can you possibly expect us to take this treatment without a fight, when your own cabinet ministers commit fraud for their own personal gain (Jeremny Hunt). Anyone else would be put in prison. This is on top of him destroying the NHS. YOU AND YOUR MINISTERS ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW. The common people are fed up of being squeezed till there is nothing left while your government takes everything they can from us.