Judicial Review over change to women’s pension age to open next week

Penny Anne Wells from East Kent Waspi with a No Letter No Notice banner

A legal challenge to the way the Government changed the pension age for women will be heard in the Divisional Court next week.

Backto60 has brought the case, which will examine whether 3.9 million women born in the 1950s were appropriately communicated with regarding changes to the state pension age that result in a later retirement.

Up until 2010 women were eligible for their state pension when they reached the age of 60 but changes have seen this rise with the age at which women qualify for the state pension now 65, rising to 66 in October and  67, for men and women, by 2028.

Backto60 and Waspi campaigners say women born in the 1950s have been unfairly hit, did not receive proper notice and many have been left in poverty.

They are calling for this cohort of women to receive their state pension from the age of 60.

Scores of Thanet women are among the members of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) 2018 east Kent branch which says it supports the Backto60 case.

Waspi say the changes were not publicised after a decision in 2011 to bring them forward, leaving many women unprepared and facing devastating hardships.

The government says the aim is to bring the retirement age for men and women in line. Increasing life expectancy means the government needs to make pension payments later in a person’s life.

Penny Anne Wells Photo Timandra French

Penny-Anne Wells, of the East Kent branch of the Waspi 2018 campaign, says the fight for justice is not about the equalisation of pension age for men and women but maladministration by the Department of Work and Pensions in the way the changes were introduced.

She said: “People weren’t notified so there was a lack of time to plan and this left many women  in a difficult financial situation.

“For some women this has been quite devastating, they may have given up jobs thinking they were due pension or been made redundant and thought they would only have to manage until the pension age.

“It means people have been using up their savings to survive and many simply can’t find a new job when they are aged 60 plus. Some women have lost everything other women in our group are nurses and just are not physically capable of carrying on until they are 66 or 67.

“We are not against equalising the pension age but there should have been adequate notice. Pensions at the same age still doesn’t mean equality, women often have taken breaks to raise family, so have less contributions meaning lesser pensions than men and they generally live longer so are even poorer.”

Dee Wild Photo Timandra French

East Kent Waspi campaigner Dee Wild says the changes mean she has lost out on 6 years of pension, at a cost of £51,000, and did not receive a letter telling her of the changes.

She says she also lost out on the chance to claim pension credits and is living on her savings.

She said: “I was lucky however to have some savings which were intended to give me the retirement that I deserved and had worked hard for all my life. Those savings will be gone on survival, not enjoyment, in the six years I will have to wait. I will be left with nothing for my old age.

I had no notice but even if I had received a letter that would have given me five years to prepare for a £51.000 shortfall. I had no hope of saving £10.000 a year in five successive years and to expect women, even like me on a halfway decent wage in my later years, to do so, is farcical and an insult to our intelligence.

Photo East Kent Waspi

“The impact of this on myself, my husband and my family is immense, in both finances and quality of life. I am lucky despite that. I’m not losing my home yet, living in my car or a phone box (as some are) or eating from food banks. But I have been proud and worked all my life and am now in despair, as are many others. This government is killing people, calculatedly and knowingly with their actions.”

The Judicial Review for the Backto60 case takes place on June 5-6.

Find Dee Wild’s Persistent Pensioner blog here

Read here: Living on £1 a day for food and sleeping in the car – stark impact of women’s state pension age changes