The battle for a fairer deal over pensions heats up as women face dire circumstances

WASPI pension campaigners from across Derbyshire arriving at County Hall to press their case
WASPI pension campaigners from across Derbyshire arriving at County Hall to press their case
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In 1995 the Government decided women’s pension age should be increased to 65 by 2020, in-line with men’s in preparation for the large tax bill an increasingly aged population would cause.

The move was hailed by the Conservative government at the time as a sensible way of ensuring that the state pension remained affordable.

Then in 2011 the Government decided to accelerate the date of women’s state pension age change to 65 by two years - to 2018. They also decided to increase the state pension age to 66 by 2020 for both men and women.

The problem with all this was that many of the 44,000 Derbyshire women and 2.1 million UK women affected received no notification.

Some letters started going out in 2009 but many of those women affected by both acts - women born between December 6, 1953 and October 5, 1954 - did not receive notification until 2011. If at all.

Joan Lye Green, 62, of Lumsdale Road, Upper Lumsdale, was told in 1995 she would receive her state pension in March 2016.

But only this year did she discover she had to wait until March 2018 after accessing the Department of Work and Pensions Facebook page.

Ex-teacher Joan said: “Because I have a teacher’s pension I am Ok.

“But there are many women who do not have any private pensions and many of them are in serious hardship.

“These are women who have contributed everything to their families and communities and will be left with nothing.”

“We have paid our National Insurance contributions and are not asking for anything that is not owed to us.”

Other women in Joan’s situation are joining the increasingly growing numbers of a group campaigning for a transitional arrangement enabling them to receive the income they had been expecting.

Last month Derbyshire members of the group, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) met with members of a Westminster cross-party committee about the issue.

Joan, who knows of no other WASPI members in the Derbyshire Dales area wants to appeal for other women in the same situation to join her and the Derbyshire group.

To contact Joan email greenlumsdale@aol.com.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire members of the group attended the full council meeting at County Hall last week to hear a motion in support of their cause.

Tricia Clough, 62, speaking on behalf of the Derbyshire group at the meeting, said: “Many have been impoverished and had dreams of a stress-free later life dashed.

“There are arguments that tiny articles appeared in newspapers and magazines and there were mentions no news programmes.

“But what were you doing in 1995? With a full-time job, husband, teenage daughter, four foster children, a cat and a dog I was far too busy for newspapers and exhausted long before the late night news.

“They should have sent me a letter”

Coun Anne Ratcliffe said it was important that women affected by the pension changes and the way they had been brought in were not left to suffer without help.

She added: “I am really pleased with how you have organised and that you have cross-party support in Parliament.”

Coun Robert Davison said: “The Government did not start sending letters out until 2009.

“Many women who took redundancy would not have taken it if they had known they could not retire.”

The council voted in favour of a motion calling on the Government to reconsider transitional arrangements for women born between 1951 and 1955 so they do not have to live in hardship due to pension changes they were not told about until it was too late.

Various Conservative councillors voted against the move due to parts of the written motion which criticised the Conservative Party.

Speaking after the meeting Tricia Clough told the Matlock Mercury that there were several options being considered by the Government at present but the one she preferred was modelled on the Canadian system, where affected women could take a reduced pension until their new retirement date.

Derbyshire WASPI will be attending a mass demonstration against the plans at Westminster on June 29.

A 200-strong choir will be singing the WASPI anthem on Parliament Square alongside supportive MPs.

Tricia and other campaigners will then go on to lobby their constituency MPs.

If you are one of the Derbyshire women affected in a similar way by the Pensions Act changes you can get involved by visiting www.waspi.co.uk or by searching for WASPI on Facebook.

Or follow them on Twitter @WASPI_Campaign.