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06 Jan 2016

Petition for women affected by pension age rise gathering pace

A petition calling to compensate older women who have been told they´ll have to work for longer than expected in order to quality for their state pension has gathered more than 100,000 signatures on the government website, The Guardian reports.

According to the publication, state pension changes announced in 1995 pledged that women would have the same qualifying age as men by the year 2020. The 2011 Pensions Act increased the state pension age from 60 to 65, meaning that by 2018 women´s retirement age would be 65, and by October 2020 it is projected to be 66.

The changes meant that women born after 1950 were no longer eligible to receive a state pension when they had hoped, and this was even worse for women born after 1953.

To make matters worse, some women were only informed of the changes less than two years before they had planned to retire, being told they would have to work another 18 months to qualify for their pension.

Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) launched a petition calling for the government to “Make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950´s women” – and their campaign has at the time of writing gathered just over 100,000 signatures, meaning that it must now be debated in parliament.

SNP member of parliament Mhairi Black is set to lead a backbench debate on the issue on 7 January.

According to the campaign group, the changes were implemented unfairly, “with little/no personal notice […] faster than promised […] and [with] no time to make alternative plans. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences.”

Pensions expert Tom MacPhail highlighted the extensive costs of paying the 360,000 women aged 61 who have been affected by the issue. He noted that paying them all the average state pension of £117.45 per week for an additional 12 months would cost £2.2 billion in total.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions has stated: “The existence of different state pension ages for women and men represents a long-standing inequality, and the abolition of this discriminatory situation is long overdue.”

“The last government introduced future changes to the state pension age for women and men, following extensive debates in both houses of parliament.”

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