Campaigners urge action to engage women left behind by state pension changes

Group calls for more information and access for women facing pensions battle

CAMPAIGNERS from the group Women Against Pension Inequality (WASPI) have urged for more action from MPs and local groups to engage women who are set to or are currently missing out on state pensions.

The call came during today’s [Wednesday 28 September] pension conference, at the Women’s Centre in Glasgow, where campaigners and politicians gathered to look at the progress of the campaign.

There is the fear that many women are isolated from sources of information which allows them to know that they can campaign, join groups and challenge the changing of their state pension age.

“It’s Theresa May’s birthday on the 1st of October, so we’ll be sending a birthday card to remind her of our plight.” Anne Potter

Anne Potter, founder and lead campaigner of WASPI, in Glasgow and Lanarkshire said: “We want to motivate people to do things for themselves and the campaign.

“When we look at the figures we’ve collected – you can see, for example in Glasgow, up to 93 per cent of women who are effected haven't engaged with the campaign, haven't signed the petition or joined a group.”

Potter was referring to the petition handed in to the UK Government this January which secured more than 118,000 signatures, and as a result a parliamentary debate. However, of the number of women from Scotland who signed the petition only a fragment represent the amount that stand to lose from the pension changes; with 92.7 per cent of women in Glasgow deemed to be “unengaged.”

In Scotland over 243,900 women are affected by the age change in pension qualification from 60 to 66 and in the UK as a whole it has impacted on 2.6 million people, meaning a loss of income that would have otherwise been due under the previous pension age.

Women born on or after April 6 1951 are directly affected by the UK Government's change despite the 2010 coalition agreeing that no change to the women's state pension age would be made before 2020. 

“It’s Theresa May’s birthday on the 1st of October, so we’ll be sending a birthday card to remind her of our plight.”, Potter continued.

Among the reasons for this lack of awareness and engagement, Potter stated that a focus on the campaign on the internet may be responsible for many women not knowing that there is a campaign already addressing their financial and legal issues.

Additionally she poured scorn on the UK Government’s “poor communication” where many women who fell victim to the pension equalisation process were not told or received letters too late to make alternative plans.

In Scotland over 243,900 women are affected by the age change in pension qualification from 60 to 66.

Patrick Grady, SNP MP, said: “All of the SNP support this campaign including our MPs in Westminster and aside from our recent report outlining how the UK Government could redress this issue; I’ll be joining the all party group as it sets out its own recommendations.

“Let's be clear. None of us are arguing that there shouldn't be an equalisation of pension age for men and women. No one disagrees with principle.

“The issue is the lack of engagement and communication, or that women usually take out time of the labour market for childcare and other reason, all of which needs to be taken into account.

“A new government under Theresa May gives us a fresh opportunity to make the case. And it’s the grassroots, this form of campaigning that will put pressure on the government to change its mind.”

The department for work and pensions (DWP) was offered a place but declined to attend the conference due to not having any available staff.

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