Thousands back MP's campaign for better pensions for women

More than 49,000 people have added their voice to a campaign calling for a rethink on pension deals which have left older women out of pocket.

Tuesday, 26th September 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 2:37 pm
Grahame Morris, left, with fellow Waspi campaigners on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has set up the online petition via the Parliament site, urging the Government to bring in a non-means tested bridging pension for those affected “without delay.”

A change in the 1995 State Pensions Act included an increase in pension age from 60 to 65 so it equalled men, with the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) appeal agreeing with that move, but not the “unfair way” the changes were implemented.

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They are angry at being treated unfairly because of the day they were born and because the significant changes to the age they receive their state pension have been imposed with a lack of notification, with little or no notice and faster than they were promised, which meant they could not plan ahead.

The issue impacts on hundreds and thousands of women born after April 6, 1950, and puts them at risk of losing up to around £45,000 from their pension pot.

Mr Morris’s petition backs the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) appeal, which also highlights the fact many women were not able to join a company pension until the 1990s and says securing work is proving impossible and zero contract hours or Job Seekers’ Allowance is the only alternative for many.

The appeal will be debated in Parliament, should it hit the 100,000 names required.

Grahame Morris MP, Easington.

It comes as the Labour Party announced it would allow women born in the 1950s to retire at 64 on a reduced state pension, rather than having to wait until 66.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams made the announcement at the party’s conference in Brighton.

Mr Morris has previously tabled am Early Day Motion supported by 192 MPs, including one Conservative member as well as several Scottish National Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru members.

Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman caused outrage when he suggested those affected by the pension issue could take up apprenticeships to earn a wage.

Grahame Morris MP, Easington.

Mr Morris said: “I set this up because last term there was a debate in Westminister to highlight the injustice of the Waspi women.

“There are 4,000 woman affected in this constituency of Easington and there are similar numbers in most constituencies who are adversely affected by the changes in their pensions, expecting to get them at 60 and then finding out they have to work until they are 66.

“Some are having to sell their homes, some are having to use the savings they hoped would see them through until their old age and some just don’t have savings because they were low paid.

“These are people who have not been idle, they have worked from the age of 16 or 17, worked for 45 years and paid in their National Insurance contributions and now they feel like they are being robbed of their pensions.

“They signed a contract with the Government when they started work to pay in those NI contributions.”

Spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions 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.

“There are no plans to change the transitional arrangements already in place.

“Women retiring today can still expect to receive the State Pension for 24.5 years on average – several years longer than men.”

It added that between April 2009 and March 2011, the DWP sent letters to 1.2million women born between April 6, 1950, and April 5, 1953, informing them of their State Pension age under the 1995 Pensions Act.

Notes were also sent to more than 5million people between 2012 and 2013 following legislation that accelerated the equalisation of men’s and women’s State Pension ages and brought forward the rise to 66.

It added that during the 2011 Pensions Act the Government made a concession which slowed down the increase of the state pension age for women so no one would face an increase of more than 18 months compared to the increase as part of the Pensions Act 1995.

Transitional arrangements at a cost of £ 1.1 billion were made in order to lessen the impact of these changes for those worst affected.