MORAY WOMEN WHO have seen their state retirement age pushed back twice in recent years with very little notice are joining national moves for a debate on the issue at the UK Parliament.
Millions of women throughout the country have had their retirement delayed – many not once but twice, pushing them into a situation in many cases where they are expected to work longer than their male counterparts.
Now a campaign group -‘Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign’ (WASPI) – is seeking redress for what they say are unfair changes imposed on women by the 1995 and 2011 Acts.
The first increase in retirement age was introduced in 1995, with the change not due to start until 2010 and taking ten years to complete, meaning that by 2020 the state pension age for women would be equal to that of men at 65.
The UK Government, however, did not write to any women affected by the change for 14 years – so many did not even become aware of the delay to their pensions until 2009.
Over one million women born between April 6, 1950 and April 5, 1953 were effected by the change but were not told until they were within three years of retirement that it had been delayed by up to three years.
Further changes were meanwhile introduced in 2011 that sought to increase the pace of the increase in retirement age, affecting women born between December 6, 1953 and October 5, 1954 – that added a further 18-month increase to when women would receive their state pension rights.
WASPI say that the while the UK Government provided written warnings for men that they would have their retirement delayed by up to one year were provided between six years and nine months and seven years and seven months before their original retirement dates.
Women, on the other hand, were given just 2 years and 7 months warning of much more draconian delays of five years on their pension age.
They say that this was despite the UK Government giving guidance on their being a ten-year warning period on pension age changes.
One of the Moray women affected by the changes is Sheila Forbes, who began writing to local MP Angus Robertson on the subject as far back as 2012.
She said: “I was not left with the feeling he had a handle on the issue at the time – plus it was the start of the referendum campaign and so a time of uncertainty for the future of our country, so I didn’t pursue it with him although I now intend to do so.
“I am sure there are a significant number of women in Moray who will be affected and may be unaware of this revitalised campaign by WASPI.”
WASPI are seeking transitional protection for women who are worst affected by the changes, and has a petition that currently sits at over 38,000 signatures.
While 10,000 signatures are enough to illicit a response from the UK Government, that said only that they “will not be revisiting the State Pension age arrangements for women affected”, somewhat disingenuously claiming that “all women affected have been directly contacted following the changes.”
Now WASPI are calling for more support throughout the UK in the knowledge that should they reach 100,000 signatures the UK Government will be obliged to consider the issue for a Parliamentary debate.