Thousands of women are preparing to march across London tomorrow, Wednesday 10th October 2018, in protest over changes to the female state pension age.
Though I will not be there in person, I will be there with them in spirit, myself being one of the women affected, born in the 1950’s (1957 to be precise)
The protest will see thousands of women march from Hyde Park to Parliament Square in a bid to ‘set the record straight for any doubters’ and create a ‘pressure point’ for government ( Waspi – Women Against Sate Pension Increases)
Their anger has, until now, gone largely unheard, but the widespread impact is beginning to show.
The 1995 Pensions Act increased the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 in order to.supposedly, equalise the age with men, with the change to be phased in over ten years from 2010 for women born between 1950 and 1955.
This transition was later sped up by the 2011 Pensions Act . These changes came as a shock to many women (me included) who hadn’t been made aware of them. Some women discovered they would have to wait up to six years longer for their state pension which affected not only their retirement plans, but the years leading up to their retirement.
WASPI was formed in 2015 by five women to campaign for the government to provide transitional payments to women born in the 1950s receiving their pension after the age of 60. They also call for compensation to women who now receive a state pension but had to wait longer.
WASPI’s online petition to parliament received over 100,000 signatures resulting in a parliamentary debate on the issue of the changes to the state pension age.
The group crowdfunded £100,000 to pay for legal action in order to challenge these changes. The money was used to take legal advice and on 8 March 2017, the group wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions threatening legal action if the government did not help lessen the impact on the affected women. This move coincided with International Women’s Day and a march in London that many WASPI members attended.
The organisation also has a number of groups across the country who campaign locally, including by asking their constituency MPs to sign the WASPI pledge. (Have you signed this Kevin ?)
The issue of the state pension age has now become more prominent leading to its discussion in a number of parliamentary debates. The issue played an important part in the 2017 general election with Jeremy Corbyn raising it in a session of Prime Minister’s Questions and the SNP pledging their support. The Conservative Government however, rejected the calls and argued that they had to make the state pension more affordable for taxpayers.
It is clear to most of us that with increases in life expectancy there has to be some changes made to the way that pensions are paid but a “fair” way of this being done is elusive. As a “victim” of this scenario, I feel as if I will never reach the age when I am eligible for the State Pension.
Maybe as I near the age of 67 I will find myself at the back of the queue, like one of those nightmares where you are trying to catch something that is continually further away than you thought. Like Sysiphus, I might be pushing my metaphoric boulder up the hill, only for it to roll to the bottom and me to begin again. Perhaps it will be abolished in the near future and those of us fortunate to have family will have to rely on them for financial as well as emotional subsistence.
Good luck to the protesters tomorrow. I think you need and deserve all the support you can get.