Cheryl Sloan, a WASPI leader in the West Midlands, is keen for the WASPI support group in Coventry & Warwickshire to grow. For information email email@example.com or 07760 441 943
Coventry Labour Candidates, Geoffrey Robinson, Jim Cunningham and Colleen Fletcher have pledged their support for women who they say have been 'very badly let down' by increases in the state pension age.
They have pledged their support for the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign group to back calls for pension relief payments for women born in the 1950s.
Launched in 2015, the WASPI campaign is seeking compensation for what it views as the unjust treatment of women who have been left out of pocket due to changes to the state pension age.
Acts of parliament in 1995 and 2011 led to the pension age for women rising from 60 to 65. It is set to come into force in 2018, two years earlier than originally planned.
Campaigners say the changes have left more than three million women in Britain in limbo after they stopped work at 60 only to later find out the retirement age had been extended without adequate notice. 11,000 women in Coventry are affected.
Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Coventry North West, said: “The stories from the women affected by the rise in the pension age are truly heart breaking. These women have worked all their lives, paying into the state pot, only to then find out the rules have been changed. They have been very badly let down.”
Jim Cunningham said: “I have supported this campaign for a long while now and if re-elected, I will continue to work with a cross-section of colleagues in Parliament to push for proper and adequate transitional arrangements for women affected by these changes. The whole process was done without adequate notice and with no transitional arrangements meaning people haven’t been able to make alternative financial arrangements.”
Colleen Fletcher said: “The lack of notice given regarding changes in the state pension age by the Government has left many women facing real hardship. It is vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women in Coventry and across the UK, who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.”
“Sadly the Tories have so far refused to do anything to alleviate the worse cases, claiming that the current social security system was sufficient to meet the needs of everyone. The Tories have completely failed to act to address the plight of these older women.”
Legislation introduced by the Tory government in 1995 and reaffirmed in the Tory coalition Pensions Act of 2011 mean that women born on or after 6 April 1951 are being unfairly hit by an increase in the state pension age. Many of them were entirely unaware of the changes and were not warned by Government agencies prior to their expected retirement. The resulting impact has left many women who have worked their entire life without employment and adequate support, having not been able to put their own arrangements in place.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) do not oppose pension age equalisation, but do not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented. Many people’s retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences due to poor preparation and communication on the Governments part.
The Government’s changes have affected women who would normally have retired earlier under the 1995 Pensions Act. Labour plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women, ensuring that they are not forced into the Government’s punitive social security regime. The Labour Party is calling on the Government to implement these plans, to give vulnerable women in our country some stability until their delayed state pension is available. The concession would operate for affected women up to 2022.
Cheryl Sloan, said: “I must make this very clear, we are not against State Pension Age Equalisation, we are protesting at the manner in which these pension reforms have been implemented hitting a specific cohort of women, those born in the 1950s, particularly hard and unfairly. The 1995 and 2011 Pensions Act, have caused me, indignity, anxiety and despair. This is because the Government failed to notify me until January 2012, seventeen years after the 1995 Act. I have lost over £40,000 in state pension and it is far too late in my working life to do anything to compensate for this loss. Although I have well over the required NI contributions, I have been robbed of my pension, I must wait a further 5 years. I have had all my options and choices taken from me through no fault of my own. My husband and I now survive off his pension alone and I mean survive. Our life is spent struggling and juggling our finances. We are considering moving, we do not want to do this, this is our home and we have lived here for thirty-five years but we can't afford the upkeep of our property, we have spent our savings on day to day living.”
“But I consider myself lucky, I have a husband who has a pension, many of these women are alone, divorced, single even widowed, they have nothing, there is no safety net. They have one option, that of signing on for Job seekers and the regime which comes with it, why should we have to suffer that indignity at our age, we have worked hard all our lives, we've paid our dues, the government should pay out !”