Christine Jardine stands up for WASPI women

Women born in the 1950s face an unexpected wait of the best part of a decade before they can get their State Pension. When they started their working lives they would have expected to be able to retire at 60. Now they have to wait until they are 67. The principle of the age going up and being equal with men is not in question. That women have had such a steep and disproportionate rise without being properly informed by the Government is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These women were at the sharp end of the gender pay gap for their working lives so any occupational pension they have is likely to be less than a man in the same job. Now they are being disadvantaged in their retirement years too.

Liberal Democrat MPs Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd are co-sponsors of a Bill that aims to look at ways of putting this right. It’s due to get its second reading early next year.

In a Commons debate this week, Christine explained the impact of the changes on the 6000 women affected in her constituency and pointed out that failure to get this right may mean that MPs may have their retirement dates chosen for them earlier than they expected.

Christine proposed a successful motion in support of the Bill at Scottish Conference last month. During the debate on that motion, 86 year old Lorna told us how she is helping her daughter who is affected by the changes.

I am 86 years old, a fairly new member and a first time speaker. I am supporting this motion for a very personal reason. My dear adopted daughter was 59 on April 25th and so would have been unable to retire until she was 66. She loved her work with under-fives in a pre-school unit. Very popular with both children and staff. But sadly the job was becoming more and more difficult. I got a text message from her that told me she had reached the end of her tether. I looked at my finances, made some changes in my direct debits and standing orders and because I have a state pension and a headteacher’s pension, I was able to undertake her mortgage payments each month. On the first morning of her freedom she shed ten years. She is a new person with a new joy in life. A real ‘people person’ she is enjoying a College Psychology course and can spend more time choosing among many worthwhile things she can do.

Not all WASPI women are so lucky, as Christine described in her speech:

The changes to the state pension age affect women such as a constituent of mine who recently came to me to tell me that although she had planned for her retirement for almost 30 years, she now found herself having to do two part-time jobs just to remain solvent. This is a woman who had worked all her life, paid her national insurance and saved for her retirement, and she now works as a cleaner and, as a result, suffers from arthritis. Her life today is very different from the one she anticipated. That she finds herself in this situation is not her fault but is down to the Government’s mismanagement.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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20 Comments

  • Jane Ann Liston 3rd Dec '17 - 10:50am

    I must have been very much on the ball then because I realised 22 years ago that I would not be retiring at 60, and reckoned on 65 instead. The only short-term surprise for me was it being 66, but I can cope with waiting another year. What I can’t understand is, if I twigged that I was going to have to wait until at least 65, where were all the other women my age and how did they not notice that retirrment age had changed?

  • So 22 years is not a long enough lead in time to implement equality laws? Really? Interesting to see people dragging their feet against equality measures announced a generation ago.

    Some people just don’t want equality it seems. Or only want it when it benefits them individually, and oppose it when it is a detriment to them individually.

  • Kay Kirkham 3rd Dec '17 - 4:45pm

    It’s not enough to have ‘twigged’ just because the change was in the press. I too ‘twigged’ that I was just old enough to get my pension at 60 ( although my three younger sisters are not ) but the government never wrote to me and told me this. I was left to work it out for myself. Any other pension provider who behaved like this would be open to legal challenge.

  • A funny old thing politics. What goes round often comes round again sometimes.

    I well remember the Lib Dems voting with the Tories in the Coalition on Monday 20 June, 2011 to introduce the very measures Christine now so rightly protests about. Steve (now Sir Steve) Webb MP summed up the debate and a certain Danny (now Sir Danny) Alexander appeared on the BBC News to justify it. It’s all in Hansard if you choose to look it up with the list of Lib Dem M.P.’s going through the lobbies with the Tories.

    Why do I remember it so clearly ? Well I was in a hospital bed in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at the time having just undergone a transplant operation three days before. I had, shall we say, a bit of time on my hands in between attacks of nausea, to listen to the debate on headphones.

    Appropriately enough today is the 50th Anniversary of the first ever Heart Transplant operation….. conducted by Dr Christian Barnard. Let’s hope Lib Dem M.P.’s have a permanent change of heart too.

  • P.S. In the photo of Christine, I notice the Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd looking up approvingly. He must certainly have had a change of heart because he was one of those ‘Wot Dun It’.

  • I must say I remember this first making headlines back in (I believe) 1994 – 1995 with the equalisation of pension ages. There really was no excuse for the previous system particularly considering the respective time the sexes lived in spent in retirement – with women living longer than men. Maybe I just follow this type of news more than most but I don’t think it has been under-reported….

  • Kay Kirkham 4th Dec '17 - 10:29am

    Simon – the state pension paid at 60 for women started in 1940 and when I signed up to pay the full NI contribution rather than the the reduced rate, that was quite clear. That said, I agree that the gradual rise in the waiting time for those born from April 1950 should not have been a problem it was the sudden rise much later which is the problem.

  • Ann Andrews 4th Dec '17 - 10:45am

    Oh dear, oh dear, where to begin? So much is wrong about these increases in state pension age. The 1950s women, having suffered inequality in pay and opportunities throughout their working lives, have had “equality” thrust upon them at the end of those working lives. The first rise increased state pension age by 5 years within 5 birth years; the second, by 6 years within 4.5 years. The Government now adheres to the Cridland recommendation to give 10 years’ notice for each year of increase. Neither of the two increases gave 1950s women anything like this amount of notice. Even if adequate notice had been given for the 1995 change, which it was not (as acknowledged by the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report into the question), few women would have been able to earn enough to make up the shortfall. A second rise of up to 18 months (for most, a year) has rendered the task all but impossible. Even when these women reach their state pension age few will qualify for the full amount and it will be decades hence before they do. It is true that women tend to live longer than men, but they do so in poverty because they have been unable to build up personal pensions. There are more injustices for these women – these are just a sample.

  • The criticism is not the equalisation of retirement age, but whether or not sufficient warning was given to allow women to plan properly. I’ll admit until recently I was surprised that anyone could have missed all of the news stories, but I’ve realised that unless it’s a huge conspiracy with a lot of women prepared to lie, then a lot of them really didn’t notice. Perhaps it is because we are in the bubble of people who are interested in politics that we routinely watch the news and take note of announcements?

    I think it’s a shame that so many people don’t follow the news, but it definitely explains a lot when it comes to voting choices! This leads to some bigger questions about what responsibility the individual has to stay on top of current affairs, either to keep their own affairs in order, or to have the privilege of a vote worth the same as those of us who dedicate more time to keeping tabs on our elected representatives.

    The cynic in me thinks that this cause has become a political football, with a lot of insincere kicking going on, but as its impossible to deny that some women are telling the truth and that they would have been better off now if they’d understood the change. I think the government should find some means of offering support, but it doesn’t need to be along the lines of giving them a full pension. We need to remember the bigger picture, and there are plenty of people who didn’t get years of warning that there would be changes to the benefits system, and millions of public sector workers who weren’t warned that their pay would not match inflation etc.

  • “Why did any women ever think their retirement age was 60?” Because between 1940 to 2010 it was.

    HISTORY OF STATE PENSION AGE

    1908 – age 70 (Speech by Asquith but LL.G. was Chancellor).
    The first state pension in the UK was the Old Age Pension. The law was passed in August 1908 and the first pensions paid on 1 January 1909 to around 500,000 people aged 70 or more. It was 5/= (five shillings or 25p) a week and was paid in full to individuals aged 70 or more with an annual income of £21 a year or less reducing to nothing at an annual income of £31 a year. A higher pension of 7/6 (62.5p) was paid to a married man. At the time only one in four people reached the age of 70 and life expectancy at that age was about 9 years.

    1925 – age 65
    In 1925 a new kind of pension was introduced based on contributions paid at work by employer and employee. It was paid from age 65 without a means-test. A married couple’s rate of pension was paid if both spouses were aged 65 or more. That meant many men had to wait for some time after they reached 65 to get the higher rate for their wives.

    1940 – men age 65, women age 60
    In 1940 pension age for women was cut to 60 to try to ensure for most couples that the married rate would be paid as soon as the husband reached 65.

    State Pension age timetables – Gov.uk
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/…data/…/spa-timetable.pdf
    Changes under the Pensions Act 2011.

    Under the Pensions Act 2011, women’s State Pension age will increase more quickly to 65. between April 2016 and November 2018. From December 2018 the State Pension age for both men and women will start to increase to reach 66 by October 2020.

    Table 2: Women’s State Pension age under the Pensions Act 2011
    Date of birth Date State Pension age reached
    6 April 1953 – 5 May 1953 6 July 2016
    6 May 1953 – 5 June 1953 6 November 2016
    6 June 1953 – 5 July 1953 6 March 2017
    6 July 1953 – 5 August 1953 6 July 2017
    6 August 1953 – 5 September 1953 6 November 2017
    6 September 1953 – 5 October 1953 6 March 2018
    6 October 1953 – 5 November 1953 6 July 2018
    6 November 1953 – 5 December 1953 6 November 2018

  • Patrick C Smith BA 4th Dec '17 - 12:32pm

    I do not subscribe to State Pensions being calculated on the basis of the increased solely on the demographic evidence of the likelihood of both men and women living longer but ought to awarded instead on how many years of employment a person has been in work or paid equivalency NI contributions.I am in favour, as many people are, that women should still be entitled to a full State Pension at 60 years.We should take into account the qualifying rules subject to age attainment and males at 65 years per se should all receive their State Pension entitlements.The Tories have found vast unexplained Brexit funds and £1Billion at the drop of a hat, to endorse NI MPs `Coalition’ as junior partner,so there is clearly Govt. money when Tories require to further their own self interest and nesting place. The best option is to adopt the L/D driven `Citizens Pension’ when the State rewards all seniors equally ,with a dividend in older age that respects fully their individual worth and personal value in society.

  • I phoned the pensions office twice before 2011 and after 2006 to make sure I had paid my full NI contributions, both times I asked them at what age I would get my state pension and both times I was told it would be sixty based on my birthdate of 1957. That looking at the 1995 dates that I have now seen would have not been correct. Does that mean that not only was I mislead but also the staff who answered calls were. I don’t think it will be changed now, but I can honestly say that it was not just me who got it wrong but also the staff I spoke to at the pensions department. I could cry and have at not getting my pension last year and I know I will just have to get on with it. I will probably have to sell my home soon as the last of my savings have been used up. I really do wish people would stop calling us fibbers or worse stupid. I actually called the pensions office and was advised it would be sixty. I think they must have used some sort of computer generated calculator to give me the age of sixty verbally, so something must be wrong!!!

  • I had no official notification of the retirement age change, but my manager at the time was due to retire at 60 (I’m about 5 years younger) and I remember she told that I’d have to wait until I was 66. I was horrified. I’d only been in my job for 5 years at the time (I didn’t join the pension scheme) because I assumed I’d retire age 60. I ended up working in the same place for 12 years, but thought at my age how much difference would a few years private pension make and opted out. My mum left me her small house (not worth megabucks), I’m fortunate I have a bit of a buffer. This isn’t the point though – I started work at 16, didn’t have kids so I’ve paid far more into the system than many women – so I really do object to being a WASPi.

    Today, people rarely start work before they’re 18-21 (uni depending), so my ‘extra years’ from 16-21, should be taken into consideration. Also, I expect this dreadful govt to pull the triple-lock and blame Brexit.. so we’ll be even worse off, what an awful country England is.

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