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Women’s pensions: we paid in, you pay out


trudy baddams, we paid in you pay out, 1950's women's pensions, “The language used and the Tory party line is confusing and misleading.”

By Trudy Baddams, from We Paid In, You Pay Out, one of several groups campaigning on behalf 1950s women.

Attention Mrs May PM, Mr Harrington MP, Mr Green MP etc.,

When the government responds to questions or criticism about the 1950’s women’s pension age hike, the first response is always that “no woman will have to work any more than 18 months” – which is true if your only point of reference is the 2011 Pension Act which increased the pension age for men and women from 65 to 66.

But of course this ignores its predecessor which brought in a hike of 5 years before a woman could retire, the problem being of course that the majority of these women weren’t even aware of the 5 year increase the 1995 Act brought forth and were absolutely shocked to learn that they have indeed a further 6 years before they can collect a pension which was promised them at 60 all those years ago when they began paying into the system.

They are reeling from a broken promise, a breach of contract. They did the right thing for 45 years of their life: contributing to a system which would look after them in retirement from the age of 60.

When the government responds to questions about the fact that the majority of women didn’t know about any change to the retirement age, they always respond with the fact that the change occurred some 20 years ago, as though this should make some difference, except they are forgetting that we were never notified.

The government keeps fighting this, but has now admitted that we were never notified, personally or otherwise, about the first increase, and that they ‘should have done more to inform us’, so it is an insult to our intelligence when Mrs May keeps referring to the length of time lapsed and the ‘extra18 months’ Tory line.

The government is very well aware that the newspapers chosen to report such a change were not the run of the mill papers, but the posh papers, The Times, The Financial Times, The Scotsman etc. None of these papers found their way into the working class household. In fact women were far too busy to be sitting reading any newspaper, let alone the broadsheets.

The government insults us further with their ‘work is good for you’ line.

We’ve worked some 45 years, paid into a system, we worked until our promised retirement age of 60 only to be told, no, you must work 6 years longer.

At 60 our bodies are giving up, many of us suffer from arthritis, back, knee, hip problems, and find it difficult to continue in the line of work we were doing when we were younger.

The government’s latest idea is to make “make adjustments and changing working patterns can help older workers to manage health issues and stay in work”. Erm a further insult, and wherever do they get this idea from? Will Tesco really ‘make adjustments’ because an oldie has applied for a job? What utter twaddle.

The Tory line that there has been a ‘sharp increase in life expectancy’ is a nonsense as is the other Tory line that women ‘will get 10 per cent more pension than men because they live longer”. May I suggest you tell this to my cousin who only lived a couple of months from claiming her retirement pension which was delayed by 2 years – and there are many other stories like this.

A pension age cannot be based on a generalisation; there are many issues here, like where one lives. In poverty areas we are dying earlier than our predecessors; it was announced today that parts of Scotland are showing a levelling off of the life expectancy. These stats are far too fickle to base such an important issue on.

Mr Harrington MP, in his recent speech, insulted us women who have reached 60 + and found ourselves out of work at such a late time in our lives and referred to us as ‘those in destitution can claim out of work benefits such as JSA’.

But let’s look at JSA with its conditionality, the work programmes we’re expected to attend, learning maths and English, learning how to create a CV, learning how to look for work, work experience in B & M (for someone with 45 years of work experience under her belt already) working alongside paid workers doing the exact same job without pay and without the perks.

Is this really the way to treat all us mothers who not only worked, kept house, looked after our own children, who had no childcare, let alone free childcare, no nannies, no microwaves, no tumble driers, walked to school every day, didn’t have the chance to learn to drive, didn’t have holidays abroad?

We struggled to make ends meet, we had children when we could afford them, we made sacrifices. There were no tax credits to top up our husbands’ wages in the early years of parenthood, all we had was a small amount of family allowance which was a contribution towards feeding our children as the men were prone to not giving us women money for housekeeping – so we worked when our children slept to help towards the family purse.

Tory media keep referring to us as the babyboomers, pray tell us where this label has come from.

Pray tell us what the government did for us when we became parents in the 1970’s?

I can tell you, not a lot, and no, many of us just worked hard to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Not everyone had a car, let alone families with 4 cars like now, the comparisons are far reaching.

So referring to us as babyboomers is yet another insult to the 50’s women and misleads the younger generation who take heed of the government and their media hype.

The government’s response to ‘We paid in, you pay out’ is that we, the tax payer, are not paying into a private insurance or pension, and that it is a ‘pay as you go scheme’. If that is the case we should now be paying for our own pensions as we approach and reach pension age, so where is the argument?

We’re all in or reaching our 60’s, so pay us our pension at the age you said you would when we began paying into the system and on the ‘pay as you go’ scheme you keep mentioning.

The government must respond to the human right to a ‘family life’. Many asylum seekers have created a case on these grounds, yet the right to a family life is being denied to the women of the 50’s and their children, their grandchildren, their spouses, their elderly parents.

The woman, the mother, is the backbone of the family and these families are being denied this luxury as she is being forced to continue to work, or worse to attend work programmes and learn how to jobsearch.

Young families are beginning to resent the fact that we remain in work when they could have our jobs. The government are not responding to this; they are not responding to the fact that there are too few jobs for all in this country and surely it is more cost effective to pay a woman her pension, removing the job blocking, than to keep a family on benefits? Instead they appear to be happy to hand out benefits to those who have yet to contribute. This in itself is creating a divide between young and old.

The government is “responsible for spending the taxpayers’ money wisely”; clearly it is time to pay their pensions on time and give the youngsters a chance to become self-sufficient, to stand on their own two feet without the need for benefits.

The government keeps talking about women who want an early retirement; NO we do not want an ‘early’ retirement we want to retire at the age we all agreed to, government, DWP and women, when we began paying into the system which would provide us women with a pension, 45 years ago.

The new single-tier pension comes with promises from the government that we women will be better off.

Except the government failed to do their homework; not every woman will be entitled to the full pension despite having 45 years of contributions. So I’m sorry to say this but Tory facts are indeed wrong, life expectancy is questionable, women do not get 10 per cent more pension than men when they die before reaching that point, despite telling the press and anyone else who may be interested that sorry.

You did not let us know of the changes. You changed the law for you and your MPs so that they require 10 years notice of any change to pension age, you agreed the same for judges and civil servants but not for us. It is clear that we simply don’t matter.

Please be aware that we do matter, that we will not give up this fight.


We Paid In, You Pay Out.

  1. Elly Fox says:

    We 1950’s ladies. Have been put in an horrendous situation….NOT of our making. We have paid NI contributions for 45 yrs plus, yet the new requirement is for 35 years…..and we still can’t get the pension we were promised at 60……..even though the government decided not to tell us about the 1995 changes……THEN we were bombarded with the extra 18 months of the 2011 legislation. It is totally wrong….the money is there to pay us, from the National Insurance coffers, which we and our employers have paid into all these years. We need justice!

  2. Linda Sandell says:

    My husband will spent 6 years on his own in retirement before I’m old enough to join him – waste of precious time

  3. Well writtten informative piece, I need my pension now after being bullied out of work with arthritis in my knee. I’m one of the 50’s babies, a carer for a father disabled by the war. I need my pension now not the humiliation of JSA I have my 45 years contribution, make it fair.

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