Waspi women renew fight for State Pension fairness. ‘We’ll turn the air purple’
WASPI women have been left ‘high and dry’ says David Linden
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Twenty landmarks across the UK will be illuminated in purple at dusk tonight to highlight their plight.
Campaigners are redoubling efforts to seek redress for an estimated 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who lost money when the State Pension age for women was increased to bring it into line with men.
More than 20 local councils throughout the UK will light up town halls and statues in purple this evening, to show their support as Parliament resumes today.
Landmark buildings such as Birmingham Central Library, the Sir John Barrow Monument in Ulverston, Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and Blackpool Tower will also light up.
Hilary Simpson, chair of the Women Against State Pension Injustice (Waspi) 2018 group, said: “As MPs return, we’ll be letting them know in no uncertain terms that we’re not going away.”
Campaigners will highlight the plight of women who expected to retire at 60 but have been forced to work on to 65 or 66, despite failing health in many cases. Analysts estimate the women have lost out on State Pension entitlement worth around £50,000 as a result of the change.
Waspi women were boosted by a symbolic victory in July, when the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said the Department for Work and Pensions should have given them more notice of moves to raise their state retirement age.
It said they suffered “maladministration” because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should have informed them of changes in December 2006, but delayed until April 2009.
The ombudsman has no power to refund lost pensions or pay damages, but can recommend the Government gives the women compensation.
Simpson said campaigners are now pressing for a fair, fast, cross-party solution to the injustice inflicted on millions of women whose “retirement plans have been overturned and whose plight has been ignored for far too long”.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said the Waspi campaign highlighted just how hard life is for many women who were not properly informed of the change to their State Pension age.
She said: “Many are unable to work due to caring responsibilities, ill health or unemployment, and do not have savings to fall back on.”
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age, said women are more disadvantaged when it comes to pensions and their plight is getting worse. “One in five female pensioners live in poverty, a rise of 6 per cent since 2012.”
She added: “We’ve heard from women across the country who have been forced to choose between putting the heating on or having something to eat because their pension doesn’t cover the essentials.”
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Barrow Borough Council in Cumbria, Carmarthenshire in Wales and Renfrewshire in Scotland are among the councils across England, Scotland and Wales lighting up their buildings in support of local Waspi women.
Barrow Council leader Ann Thomson said it is keen to support the campaign. “As a Waspi woman myself I hope we all get the right outcome.”
A DWP spokesperson said the Government decided more than 25 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality. “Raising State Pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.”
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, finding we acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds, the spokesperson said.
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