Belfast Telegraph

Let's do the right thing and fix these unfair anomalies

By Simon Read

If you are female and were born in the 1950s, you could be facing a much worse retirement that you hoped for.

That's the fear of campaigners fighting to redress an inequality that has built up because of the changes to the state pension retirement age.

Marion Smulders, a campaigner from the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group, got in touch with me after the appointment of the new Pensions Minister, Ros Altmann. "In the past, Ros has supported women born in the 1950s who are being denied state pension rights," she told me. Following my recent challenge to Dr Altmann to put right pension anomalies, Ms Smulders said: "[I hope] the new minister will continue to fight unfair and discriminatory changes imposed on women born in the 50s."

The problems have come about through a combination of the acceleration to the increase in state pension age and the lack of sufficient notice given to women for them to re-plan for retirement.

"It has left many 1950s women in financial hardship," warns Anne Keen, another Waspi campaigner. "Many were not allowed to join private pension schemes or had retired early to care for relatives, or because of personal illness. The state pension is their only source of income."

She points out that privileged people, such as MPs, judges and civil servants, have had their occupational pensions protected for those within 10 years of retirement age. "So why are women not being given the same protection?" Ms Keen asks.

Looking ahead, 10 years' notice will be given for any future changes to the state pension age to help people cope with the change in their circumstances. "So why are we being treated differently?" Ms Smulders asks.

When outside the Government, Dr Altmann was supportive of the campaign. Will that change now? Let's hope not - over to you, Ros.

Belfast Telegraph


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