Pensions, discrimination, poverty: petition
Changes imposed on pensions for women born in the 1950s have been called unfair and discriminatory.
And a petition set up to draw attention to this and calling for change has been presented to HMRC – but is still open for signing.
The problems have come about through a combination of the increase in state pension age and the fact that no sufficient notice was given to the women in this age group to enable them to re-plan for their retirement.
Many women born in the 1950s were not allowed to join private pension schemes or had to retire early to care for relatives or because of personal illness, Anne Keen, a campaigner with Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) explained in the Independent recently.
So the state pension will be their only source of income, she pointed out.
Ten years’ notice will be given for any future changes to the state pension age to help people cope with the change in their circumstances, and MPs, judges and civil servants have had their occupational pensions protected for those within 10 years of normal retirement age.
So why haven’t other contributing women been given the same protection?
The initial petition letter, calling for a reversal of the State Pension Law runs:
‘Dear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,
‘In your Coalition document “The Coalition: Our Programme for Government”: the Coalition Government stated:-
“We will phase out the default retirement age and hold a review to set the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women. We will end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75”.
‘However, the Coalition Government have broken this promise by accelerating the rise in the State Pension Age. Therefore, please ensure that Mr. Cameron & Mr. Clegg honour their word and reverse the State Pension Law.’
Why is this important?
By reneging on their promise the Coalition government has denied a generation of their pension rights.
This has had a devastating effect upon those women and men who have worked long and hard believing that they were to retire at 60 and 65 respectively.
And because of the timescale when this law was introduced, hundreds of thousands of of women born in the 1950s had no opportunity to make any contingency plans for retirement.
However, Civil Servants, within 10 years of normal retirement age were, quite rightly, given immunity from the changes to the Civil Service pension reforms. This was to “Provide transitional protection for those closest to retirement”.
“So why are we being treated differently?” Keen’s fellow campaigner Marion Smulders asked.
MPs and judges are also protected from the changes because “This protection strives to be fair to members who are close to their expected retirement age and are less able to change their plans than younger members.”
Not only is this hypocrisy on their part it is also discrimination and therefore illegal.
It is discrimination to impose ‘rules’ that disadvantage one group of people more than another.
It is against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else.
Furthermore, the recent State Pension Review (updated in September 2014) said that “Any future changes to State Pension age will, as now, require primary legislation and will be subject to the full scrutiny of Parliament.”
And: “The review will seek to give individuals affected by changes to their State Pension age at least 10 years’ notice.”
This compounds a case of discrimination.
Because of the Coalition’s broken promise women born in the 1950s are now being forced to work longer and wait longer to receive the State Pension, which is an entitlement, something to which we have contributed to all of our working lives.
Based on working/waiting an extra 4 more years these women will lose at least £21,696 basic State Pension.
Others who are being forced to work longer will obviously lose much more.
These changes will also have a detrimental impact upon employment opportunities for young people. The longer women in the age bracket are being forced to work the fewer jobs there will be for them.
Is this an honourable way to treat people?
The right to retire with the financial security at the age that has been promised throughout our working lives, has been denied. Dreams have been shattered.
This broken promise is unfair, unnecessary and totally unacceptable.
Ministers need to do a U-turn on this mean-spirited move and honour their word.
This petition was delivered in person to HMRC on 24 March – before the parliamentary recess on the 30 March – but the petition is remaining open, and currently has over 60,000 signatures. Please support us and sign it.