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We worked and paid in, did as we were told


1950's women, pension changes, no letter, o work, no money, we paid in, you pay out, “This is how it was back then, for us women born in the 1950s.”

By Trudy Baddams, We Paid In You Pay Out.

We left school at 15 or 16 depending on whether we wanted our grades or not, many couldn’t wait to leave and get a job in shop or on a building site, others were happy to stay on and move onto technical college or office junior positions or apprenticeships.

There were only half a dozen at the most in my school, at any given time, who were good enough to stay on for upper sixth grade and only a few of those actually made it to University. We all knew university was for the elite, not moneyed elite but those clever enough to pass exams.

On embarking on the journey of employment, we were able to try several jobs before settling into something we enjoyed, purely because there were plenty of jobs to choose from.

We began paying into the system as our parents did, we paid income tax, National Insurance from our pay packets and most of us enjoyed a tax rebate because we’d all been on emergency tax as we had no record to fall back on and no tax code either. Same with the National Insurance, we paid but this isn’t included in our qualifying years as the time we ALL leave school is early to mid-summer, but we didn’t get a refund of National Insurance.

So, in our 18th year we began paying Graduated Pension from our wage packet too.

The jobs available to us girls at the age of 16 were quite literally shop floor jobs, we were starting at the bottom with hopes and dreams of becoming office managers, head cashiers etc; we never dared dream that we might become Chief Executives, Managing Directors, that only ever happened if you were a man.

Women couldn’t apply for building work or anything similar, there was a very real divide, men’s jobs and women’s jobs. Women didn’t drive, it was a man thing. There was no equalisation in the work place and even those women doing the same job as a man were paid less.

We women just got on with our lives doing the work available, until of course we fell in love and married.

Once we married we were taken to our accountant’s office to discuss our pensions and our National Insurance contributions, we were given the NI1 to read and we were given the chance to ask questions of the accountant to try and understand the issue within continuing to pay the standard rate or the reduced rate contributions.

The leaflet was well written and quite clear that by continuing to pay the standard rate I could retire at 60 in my own right instead of waiting for my husband (who was 3 years my senior) to reach his retirement age of 65, of course in my case there was no contest, I didn’t want to wait until I was 62 to collect my pension when I could pay more into the fund per week to retire at 60.

I was advised then to sign the CF9 form attached to the NI1 to declare I wanted to continue to pay the standard rate. That was the contract I entered into with the government.

We were young when we married and had very little, we had to build our home, my husband bought me curtains for the new home as a birthday present, we were given an old single tub washing machine which we used until we could afford a £20 second hand automatic, my husband was earning quite well, working shifts at the local paper mill, I continued to work in an office as a clerk.

As things progressed we had children, we women stayed home to look after our own children, the men were the breadwinners, the mum’s were the home makers, we got a little family allowance to help towards feeding the children, but no benefits, no tax credits, we had to make ends meet, we didn’t have microwaves, we cooked from scratch, shepherds pies, stews, all cheap but filling and full of goodness.

We just followed our parents example really, when we were really young our mums and dads didn’t have a telly, they would sit and play cards, show us how to sew and knit, we didn’t always have a car, in fact we would sometimes borrow one from an uncle so we could go on a camping holiday. We played with dolls and read books.

TV and phones came later.

In the mid to late 1970s we could get council flats, or houses sometimes, our rent was reasonable and sometimes if we fell on hard times we could claim a little in rent rebate, if there was not enough overtime, and slowly us women would return to work, just a couple of hours a week, while the baby slept or while dad sat with babe after work.

We would take cleaning jobs mainly, cleaning offices when they shut was a favourite. As the children went to school we took jobs like dinner ladies, or bar work, anything that fitted in with school hours, while the man remained the breadwinner, expecting his dinner when he came home, his washing to be done and the house clean and tidy.

The jobs we took while the children grew up didn’t offer workplace pensions, they were often cash in hand or paid too little to even pay our contributions, let alone towards a pension.

Money was always tight, we couldn’t afford holidays abroad, we had a couple of camping holidays in Cornwall, that’s was about it. But we could afford a car.

Slowly the wife took on more work as the children grew older and went on to big school. Again the workplace was always geared towards men, so there were few choices. We still had to be home for the children coming home from school, being home alone in those days was not an option, there were no breakfast clubs or homework clubs on offer.

Slowly as the 1970s came to an end and we moved into the 1980s we saw more and more women taking to the road, more and more women taking further education, bettering themselves and able to get better jobs in accounts, taking supervisory roles, getting better money; there was a sense of realisation that women can do a good job like men.

Women of the 50’s were getting on well, they and their partners became home owners, they worked hard, they made sacrifices while their children were growing up, some were lucky enough to save a few bob here and there too.

As the children grew up and needed their mum less and less, the mum blossomed and grew into something to be proud of, she worked her way up the ladder and became management in companies who used to turn their backs on women, she created her own business, we women are hard workers, and it has paid off.

The children fly the nest and the wife and husband become a couple again, not an equal couple, because the wife is still expected to be the home maker and the look after the husband usually several years her senior.

So we have women in their 50’s proud of what they have achieved whether it be, proud of their off spring, how they’ve turned out, proud that they created a home in their council house for their family, or managed to pay off their mortgage of their family home, somewhere for them to see out their days and have their children back to stay, the house will be theirs one day.

Men and women of the 50’s have done the right thing all their lives.

Both have contributed to society, to the system, to the country’s coffers for 40 or more years.

It hasn’t been easy for many of us, we’ve struggled to reach where we are now, for whatever reason, for whatever gain. But we’ve done it, we’re proud to have achieved what we have achieved.

We’re proud of our children who have values, who understand what it is to struggle, who want to make things better for their family. We taught them, they have learned from us.

And people want to refer to us ‘babyboomers’ as an insult, as though we have only taken something from society.

Babyboomers? I think not.

So here we are reaching our pension age of 60. All these years expecting to retire in a few months’ time, and we find that the government has reneged on this contract we entered into all those years ago, from the age of 16 in my case, and I find out in my 59th year that all those years I struggled I could have paid the lower rate National Insurance and been quids in every week.

But even then, the rules stated if I paid the lower rate I could retire when my husband retired at 65, that too has now been changed, he will have to be 66 as I will have to be 66.

An EXTRA 6 years for me to wait until I collect my pension and an EXTRA year for him, even that is not equalisation is it when we have 6 and men have 1 year.

You can see from the above that the whole equalisation has been loaded against women since their birth in the 1950s and now the government wishes to ‘equalise’ the pension age as it has been unfair to men thus far.

The government stands by its commitments to pay aid to Pakistan, but it refuses to stand by its contract with us 1950s women who signed a contract in the 1970s that if we continued to pay standard rate NI we could collect our pension at 60 in our own right.

Women have always been classed as second class citizens. We still have to fight for equal pay, and now we have to fight for our pension because the government deemed it unfair to men.

The government has pushed the goal posts too far now and made this equalisation to men unjust and unfair to women and it needs to be addressed forthwith.

The 1950s women who have done the right thing all their lives are now finding they have to sell their homes, use their savings – if they even have any – so they can enjoy their retirement, so they can have a life together with their husbands, enjoy their right to a family life, enjoy their grandchildren, help their children.

After all those years of toil, hard work, anguish, now it looks like they have to see it all end up being sold from under their feet, all because the government has reneged on the contract these ladies signed in the 1970s.

Trudy Baddams is from the We Paid In You Pay Out campaign group.

  1. K Badlan says:

    Contemptuous behaviour. As we have seen time and time again from this Government.

  2. susan kelly says:

    That is so true. And we are still struggling – and our siblings are voting TORY.

  3. Glynis Moorhouse says:

    The first time read this I cried. I read, with realisation of all the things mentioned almost mirrored my own and realisation that I was not alone. We forget what we have actually lived through and still have to battle daily , will we ever be able to rest and take pleasure in our golden years? Thank you Trudy and all at We Paid In You Pay Out. X

  4. Ruth Beer says:

    If we knew then that we were to become victims of women’s inequality and age discrimination. This is one of the most disgusting and cruel issues of modern times.
    The rise in the state pension age to 66years and even longer for many others is tantamount to abuse of the elderly. I asked the BBC if they will consider making a documentary on the subject,via email,they acknowledged receipt of my email but ignored my question. I have fought for a better future, as did my mum and dad. I was raised to proud of my achievements and to never be in debt. My father who, sadly died, aged 69 years,from industrial disease ensured we were well fed, well educated and I felt so secure with him on my side.Ny mum passed on her skills, I still cook from scratch,can sew, knit. I struggle with the daily tasks. I am a full time support worker and look after my mum who is 87 years old this year and she helps me financially. My husband is Il and I care for him also. I am struggling to make ends meet and not in the best of health myself.I have had to wait 3 years and I was told by the DWP that this year I would get my pension but then I am told my pension is deferred again to beyond 65 years, There is no absolute guarantee.

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