Many of you will know that I have been a champion of 1950s-born women, and the injustice they suffered in the administration of changes to the state pension age, for many years.
For those not aware, the 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the State Pension Age for women born on or after 6 April 1950 to equalise it with men. The change was supposed to be phased in over ten years from 2010 for women born between 1950 and 1955, but this transition was later sped up by the 2011 Pensions Act.
Many 1950s-born women, who had paid into their pension pots their entire life, were not adequately notified of how these two acts would impact their pension. Many had planned for retirement at 60, only to discover too late that they would be waiting six years longer.
It’s difficult to overstate how devastating this lack of communication has been for 1950s-born women. As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on this issue, I’ve heard harrowing stories of women driven to destitution, of mental health struggles and families torn apart through financial upheaval.
In Tameside, I’ve met regularly with local 50s-born women who have spent years calling on the Government to recognise and address the injustice that they’ve faced, only to be ignored. The issue is raised at countless surgeries, and my inbox is regularly inundated with local 50s-born women at a loss about what they should do next. My constituent Marion, from Denton, was one of the founding members of the WASPI campaign, which has grown from strength to strength over the last few years.
Last week, I met with campaigners in Parliament before Prime Minister’s questions. In the pouring rain and cold, these 50s-born women stood with placards calling for justice. It is shameful that they have had to wait so long, with little to no recognition.
I hope that this will change soon. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has been investigating this issue, and found that there was maladministration from successive Governments in how they communicated State Pension changes. No political party is blameless, which makes working together for a fair and fast resolution all the more crucial.
The Ombudsman will be publishing several recommendations to the Government over the next few weeks. I’ll continue to fight tooth and nail to get justice for the 1950s-born women that I represent, and those who I’ve met in the 8-plus years I’ve been campaigning on this issue.
Maladministration has occurred, and the Government needs to do its utmost to put things right.