Court of Appeal dismisses Backto60 state pension age challenge

Demonstration held in Margate last year Photo Timandra French

Women fighting to show a change in pension age qualification for women born in the 1950s was discriminatory have lost their Court of Appeal case today (September 15.

A legal challenge to the way the Government changed the pension age for women was dismissed by the High Court last year with a finding in favour of the government.

In June 2019 the Backto60 campaign group brought the judicial review case to the Divisional Court, which examined 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.

They were calling for this cohort of women to receive their state pension from the age of 60. There action was supported by other women’s pension rights groups including Waspi (Women against state pension injustice).

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 moving up to 65. In October this is due to rise to 66 for both men and women. It will rise again for men and women to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and to 68 by 2046.

Backto60 campaigners say women born in the 1950s have been unfairly hit, did not receive proper notice and many have been left in poverty. The group has taken several avenues of legal action and wants reparation for the years of pension that women have lost out on.

The group had vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court if the appeal court bid failed.

But a summary of the High Court judgement by Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple said: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.”

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.

Backto60 launched a campaign to raise £72,000 to be able to bring an appeal.

The main issue in the appeal was whether the Pensions Acts enacted between 1995 and 2014 which equalised the state pension age for men and women and then raised the state pension age for both genders gave rise to unlawful discrimination either directly on the basis of age or indirectly on the basis of gender or a combination of age and gender.

The appeal also raised the question whether the government was under an obligation to notify the affected women of the changes to their pension age and whether the delay in bringing the challenge ruled out the grant of any remedy if Backto60 had succeed.

Today the decision by Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Sir Nicholas Underhill, and Lady Justice Dame Vivien Rose was not in favour of the Backto60 bid.

A summary of the decision said the appeal was dismissed unanimously  and “adopting the same state pension age for men and women does not amount to unlawful discrimination under either EU law or the Human Rights Convention.”

The court also ruled that the appeal had been brought application “ substantially out of time.”

It added: “The Court upholds the Divisional Court’s conclusion that the legislation equalising and then raising the state pension age was justified.”

The case was brought by Julie Delve and Karen Glynn, on behalf of the Backto60 campaign. The pension age changes have impacted around 3.8 million women born in the 1950s.

Backto60 campaign leader Joanne Welch said today: “Both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer have spoken about the injustice to which 50s women have been subjected.  Yet DWP challenges an indefensible and pays the ‘Treasury Devil’ and his 13 strong team with taxpayers’ funding to say the opposite at Court of Appeal?  Really?”

A Waspi campaign, statement says: “The decision is another kick in the teeth for the 3.8million women born in the 1950s who have been denied several years of state pension we have paid into throughout our working lives and have had their retirement dreams shattered.

“It seems the British justice system is incapable of recognising that we have clearly been treated unfairly. They also appear to fail to recognise the devastation and despair suffered by women and their families and the serious hardship they now continue to face.

“We are grateful to the Backto60 campaign and their legal team for taking this case. We look forward to hearing their response as to whether there are grounds to appeal today’s decision.”

Penny Ann Wells Photo Timandra French

Waspi East Kent coordinator Penny Anne Wells said: “After five years of campaigning I am very disappointed that the injustice has not been recognised. Women born in 1950s deserved adequate notice of the rise in their pension age and recognition of the gender discrimination experienced by their generation.

“I take heart in knowing the campaign and its members have been able to offer emotional support and friendship to each other. The Waspi campaign has been formidable and I hope that at the very least it will make government more mindful to consider the impact of legislation for women and be a warning that when necessary women will stand and fight injustices in the future.”

Backto60 has been contacted for comment.


  1. What a terrible decision. I thought we had come some way fighting against gender discrimination but it appears not! Progress is an illusion. Only Labour offered to fix this problem by paying Waspi women their rightful pensions. It is simply wrong that so many women (and men) are forced to work into the later years of life. We are utterly out of step with our near European neighbours. The problem is complex, many women received insufficient notice, many cannot not afford to retire, many are working through poor health. I’m all for people working as long as they want to, but the problem here is the lack of choice. Many will be forced to work. Many like myself have been working since they were 16 years old. Age discrimination is endemic in the U.K. it has not been tackled at all. Older workers, (from 50 years) are all too often discriminated against overtly and covertly. This will have a big impact in Thanet a lot of women were hoping beyond hope that this case would be won!

  2. What happened to these women having their pensions that they had paid into taken away by the DWP and the lack of effort within government to do anything about it. Even men have had their retirement date taken from them when they have set them at 65 and were told they wont be able to retire for another year or more depending on their age at the time the legislation went through. It’s disgusting that people were and still are expected to work later in life no matter their personal circumstances.
    We have one of the higher pension age retirements in Europe and elsewhere which is discriminatory for all. This affects everyone not just those women involved with the courts in this case.

    • Thanks Karen for your support. I am so sad today for all the women born in the 1950 we have been treated so badly by all governments over the years and it just goes on. So sad

  3. If only the people campaigning to have place names changed and statues torn down had focused their energy on a contemporary problem like this (though I guess mostly white and mostly heterosexual pensioners are low in their priorities). Agree totally with Karen’s comments.

  4. If Women had been treated fairly in those years of raising children and had a salary for wearing the many hats of the Maternal years and pointed in the direction of having Pensions equal to their Husbands then i perhaps could see reason to make things equal. This generation of Women though were clearly treated with contempt in a Man’s world as they worked hard towards equality that resulted often in high divorce rates, as there was clearly this strand of thread of contempt towards Women in Society throughout those years. Women who stayed home raised babies and later those babies grew into people who worked strongly in Society as Nurses, Doctors and many highly professional places in life. I was born in 1957 I ran a Nursery school for ten children per day as well as getting my own children into school and they all grew up to be exceptional people, One a Phsychotherapist who works in Ramsgate Counselling hefty cases daily as well as running a home and raising her two children. My youngest is a Special needs Head of Year in a brilliant school well known that gained an exceptional Ofsted this year. My eldest Son is an Apps Designer and in my youngest Son’s school they love a game he has designed. I may seem to boast but it is beyond my wildest dreams my children are brilliant in the Public sector all three. I loved raising them and I also worked. My Husband then who I was married to was a Civil Servant I was with for 18 years. We then divorced as i was treated rather unkindly for all I did for my family. I never had much money he kept everything. He then married a Mistress a Pan American Stewardess and she was married to his colleague also so a Civil Servant, she waited until Pension rights were granted to Women so she could shaft his Pension as well as have all of my Children’s Fathers. I had Divorced when that right was not granted, so got no later life security of this, so they are loaded living in a Mansion now by the River in Thereasa Mays Constituency and me in a council flat Lol! that’s because I had a Brain Tumour in 2009 and had my house snatched off of me in the Courts with no help whatsoever for almost two years after falling ill. I was at that time at University as had worked hard for a place and had done 100 nursing shifts the months before the tumour was found. To add insult to injury I fell onto my skull from a tail lift lorry when the Courts ordered Bailiffs to chuck me out of my 15 year home a small bungalow I had bought with the tiny share I got on the divorce settlement. Women will always be treated with contempt it seems and laughter. How on earth can you justify or quantify that the women that provided and wore many hats to Care so long and through many years for their families that the children then became the strength of society should never get reward or recognition for hours put in. The foundations of Society matter and so do those that develop the cream of life and the Young one’s that go on to deliver in Society. Its just incredible and selfish of the Government not to see this fact.

  5. I have worked full time since I was Fifteen and always paid my Tax and NI. In that time i had two children but I always worked full time but I think it is so unfair that our pension has been taken away from us as people that have never paid into the system still get the same as us but I surpose they are on benifits, which is something I have never claimed.

    • I have a stay at home wife who looked after our children while I worked all my life. What makes you think my wife worked any less harder than you and deserve less pension than you? We only had child benefit at the time and no other. We struggled to get by and did. Now she gets a crap pension and no credits. Just like a lot of you. Don’t you dare say my wife is worth less than you. THINK BEFORE YOU SPOUT OUT YOUR RUBBISH NEXT TIME MAYBE.

      • Joe, I think it’s very important that all women should be able to qualify for a decent state pension. Whether they raised children or not. Some women choose not to have children and some women find that they can’t have children. The pension age was increased and most WASPI women weren’t given notice. Our pension payment rates are amongst the lowest in the EU. We need pension fairness for all. Raising children is most important!

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