WASPI CAMPAIGN: 1950s women demand action on pensions

Angela Madden, Kate Rutter from I, Daniel Blake, Pauline Snaith, Tricia Clough.
Angela Madden, Kate Rutter from I, Daniel Blake, Pauline Snaith, Tricia Clough.

“Everyone has heard of ‘I, Daniel Blake’ - well we want Ken Russell to make ‘We, WASPI Women’ now.”

Such is the current confidence of a campaign which - since being formed in 2015 - has rocked the political establishment.

WASPI cordinator, Tricia Clough.

WASPI cordinator, Tricia Clough.

WASPI - or Women Against State Pension Inequality - wants to expose how two pensions acts from 1995 and 2011 adversely affect women born in the 1950s.

And Tricia Clough, Angela Madden and Pauline Snaith are three of the leading local lights of a movement that shows no sign of slowing down.

“Somebody said that we are the biggest campaign this century,” says Tricia, 62, of Chesterfield.

“All we have is a voice - but we vote and Theresa May ought to be worried.”

We were born in the 1950s - we got equality in the first place.

“We are women who were born in the 1950s - it is us who got equality in the first place,” agrees Angela, 62, from Wadshelf.

“Like the ladies at Dagenham who got equal wages, we are quiet until we think ‘no more’.”

The three women say the campaign has received support from across the political spectrum - but that the government are ‘ignoring’ them.

One-hundred-and-forty MPs have so far backed their campaign and 110 councils from all parts of the UK have signed up to their cause.

The women at a recording of the BBC Sunday Politics.

The women at a recording of the BBC Sunday Politics.

The next big event is a rally outside parliament on Wednesday March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day.

“We are hoping that there will be a really big turnout,” says Tricia.

“We had 2,000 last time - but we think we can double that. There will be more than 50 people going down from Derbyshire and it won’t just be women - men are attending this time as well.

“We want men to realise their wives aren’t getting what they are owed and join us.”

MP Dennis Skinner is a strong supporter of the Waspi women.

MP Dennis Skinner is a strong supporter of the Waspi women.

However, the campaign believes that a lack of access to electronic communications is holding many women back.

“It’s not just the women who can’t use computers,” says Angela.

“Women on limited incomes who are having to work two jobs have to make decisions about what they can afford.

“That is the sort of situation this change has put women in.

“They are existing on food banks and one soup kitchen meal a week - women are suffering real embarrassment.”

The campaign is also concerned that years of having to live with no independent source of money would leave women ‘wide open’ to financial and emotional abuse.

Many of the campaigners are very weary and under stress, they say - so much so the fatigue has been dubbed the ‘WASPI wobble’.”

“Women are making themselves ill taking jobs,” says Pauline, 63, from Palterton.

“But we have paid in for the last 40 years - that money is ours.”

“They have stolen £36,000 from me.”

“There is now a new law that everybody gets 10 years notice - why should we be different?”

“What we needed was more time to plan - with ten or 15 years notice we could have saved more.”

The campaign’s success is perhaps best illustrated by its phenomenal fundraising.

Last year, they began a ‘crowdjustice’ fundraising scheme which raised £100,000 in a matter of days.

They also now have a membership scheme costing £25 a year which not only helps them raise funds but gives them more ‘clout’ in negotiations.

And the money they have raised is already being put to good use after the group employed top law firm Bindman’s to act on their behalf.

“We are all already well on the way with our complaints to the DWP but some people haven’t started yet,” says Angela.

“Bindman’s have now created a step-by-step guide that people can use when they go through the complaints procedure.”

“The Government are putting out stories that are really quite mythical.”

“They say we are living longer and that no one is having to wait more than 18 months.

“One woman worked out that she would have to live until she was 134 to get back what she had put in.”

Such has been the success of their campaign, they now even have the support of two former pensions ministers - Steve Webb and Ros Altman.

And just last week, they received another boost in the form of a parliamentary debate - the seventh they have secured.

It seems as far as the WASPI women and their campaign goes - this is just the beginning.

To find out more email northderbyshirewaspi@btinternet.com​ or call 07971 845823.