'˜Cross-party support grows for the WASPI campaign'

CROSS-party support is growing for a campaign to force the Government to offer fair transitional arrangements to women who are suffering hardship because of changes to the state pension age, it has been claimed.

The WASPI group from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
The WASPI group from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI)- which has six groups in Yorkshire - claims that women born in the 1950s were not given sufficient notice of Government plans to equalise the state pension age between women and men.

As a result, around 3.8m women around the UK did not have enough time to change their pension plans, WASPI argues.

WASPI, which has more than 140 local groups around the UK, has complained to the Department of Work and Pensions, claiming the department mishandled the implementation of changes to the State Pension Age.

A total of 184 MPs have signed an early day motion in support of WASPI’s campaign. A WASPI spokesman said that 196 candidates, who are now MPs, signed the WASPI pledge at the last election, including 20 Conservative MPs.

Jane Cowley, a WASPI director, said she was delighted with the level of support from all the main parties to sponsor a bill that reviews the pension arrangements for WASPI women.

Ms Cowley said: “The support for the WASPI campaign has grown significantly as parliamentarians have taken notice of the plight of the 3.8m women who have been negatively impacted by the mismanagement of increases to the state pension age by successive governments.

“Our general election WASPI pledge campaign, and the subsequent early day motion and the Westminster Hall Debate in July, show that there is cross party support from the Conservatives, Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP.

“These Parliamentarians understand that this is about the fundamental trust between the Government and ordinary people and the unfair way in which the changes were implemented. We eagerly await the details of both the bill and the motion of the opposition day debate. We will continue to fight this injustice until the Government re-evaluates its position.”

Supporters of the campaign include Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield, who said thousands of women born in the 1950s were not given fair notice of the changes to their state pension age. Mr Blomfield said one Sheffield woman had lost thousands of pounds after the Government changed the rules in 2011.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The decision to equalise the state pension age between men and women was made over 20 years ago and achieves a long-overdue move towards gender equality, something that is both fair and sustainable for future generations and in line with continuing rises in life expectancy

“This was voted on in Parliament and previous Governments have legislated accordingly. All parties have agreed to the need to raise the pension age and have legislated to do that. There are no plans to change the transitional arrangements already in place.

“Women retiring today can still expect to receive the state pension for 26 years on average – which is more than any generation before them and several years longer than men.”

The Women Against State Pension Equality campaign believes in equality and is not asking the Government to reverse the changes to state pension age.

Angela Madden, a director of the WASPI campaign, said: “We are asking for fair transitional arrangements for all women affected. One cohort of women should not have to suffer such a major change. Yes, changes need to be made - but not all at once, and definitely not in secret.”

She added: “Some women received letters only two years before their expected retirement date informing them that their state pension age was up to six years later. Some women still haven’t been informed.”