Waspi campaign paints city purple to recruit Sunderland women

Members of WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) celebrate International Womens Day.
Members of WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) celebrate International Womens Day.
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The campaign to raise awareness of women’s pension rights has hit the streets.

Protestors from across the region gathered in Sunderland on Saturday to highlight the impact of the 1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts, which raised the pension age for women by up to six years.

Many women are still unaware that they are personally affected by these pension changes.

Moira Scales

Campaign group WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) claims more than three million women were affected by the change but that successive governments have failed to give them adequate notice of the changes and the impact they will have.

Keel Sqaure in the city centre was lit up in the campaign’s colours from Thursday to Saturday.

Moira Scales, of the campaign’s Newcastle, Wear and Tees group said: “‘Paint the Town Purple’ is one part of the WASPI campaign to raise awareness.

“Many of the WASPI ladies began work at the age of 15 and have paid into the National Insurance scheme for 40+ years.

“The maximum required for the state pension is now 35 years so, in essence, they have overpaid into a fund in all good faith and believed they would receive their state pension at age 60.

“Life in the 1950s, 60 and 70s was a lot different to today - many women were expected to stay at home and care for the children, be a wife and a mother, care for elderly relatives etc without the benefit system available today, especially for child care. Women often worked part time in low paid, physically demanding jobs.”

The campaign is backed by unions and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and has written to the government laying out a list of demands.

The failure to warn women of the changes to pension age had left many of them out of pocket, said Moira: “Some ladies retired or were made redundant and are unable to find suitable work again, divorce settlements were made on the basis of the state pension age being 60 years - if the legal service were not aware of the changes, how did the Government expect women to be?

“Many women are still unaware that they are personally affected by these pension changes. The Waspi campaign wants to inform as many women as possible of this injustice so women can speak to members, receive support and advice and be encouraged to take action with their local MPs and make formal complaints to the DWP to get Fair Transitional Payment.”

The group is campaigning for transitional payments for women affected by the pension age increases in the SP age.

“This Government is expecting women to continue working until they are 67 - many of whom are physically and emotionally affected and unable to do so,” said Moira.