I have given a long interview to Dave Niven, one of the country’s leading figures on the safeguarding of children, for socialworldpodcast on the issue of justice for the 50swomen. This podcast is aimed at the social work and caring professions and is watched by 2000 people in the field.
Dave contacted me after a gap of over 20 years because he had seen my writing on the plight of the 50s born women and wanted me to do an interview for his podcast. We last collaborated on a story in the 1990s when I was on The Guardian though both of us can’t remember what the story was exactly about.
He now runs his own consultancy, David Niven Associates (email@example.com) which provides media training, and consultancy on child protection and safeguarding.
The podcast can be listened to here. That is the link to his site where you will also find other podcasts.
regular series of podcasts
It is part of a regular series of weekly podcasts on Thoughts on the Social World. Previous people who have been interviewed include Jim Gamble, a former national policing lead for child protection and the architect and CEO of the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. He is now CEO of the INEQE Safeguarding Group. http://www.ineqe.com
He also recently interviewed Christopher Lamb, a former Australian ambassador and chief diplomat with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva. He is now an adviser.to IFRC and the Australian Red Cross.
My own interview covers the case I have made on my blog for justice and proper equality for the 50swomen. I also talk about the exposures I did on The Guardian which led to the resignation of Tory ministers Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith over the “cash for questions” scandal in the 1990s and the first resignation of Peter Mandelson from the Labour government over his hidden ” home loan” to buy a posh pad in Notting Hill. And also my award winning story on how the former head of the Student Loans Company devised a scheme for legitimate tax avoidance which led to the government discovering that they had 2500 civil servants doing the same thing.
One of the biggest issues about funding future state pensions and the incessant demands for raising the pension age is the fact that we are all going to live longer. This ministers argue is going to be too expensive for new generations paying into the national insurance fund and therefore retirement should continue to rise, possibly eventually to 75.
This argument was used ruthlessly by the Department for Work and Pensions in the judicial review against the appellants supported by the BackTo60 campaign for not compensating any of the 3.8 million women who have seen their pension age rise from 60 to 66.
To justify this ministers always quote figures up to 2011. The reason why they use this year as a comparator is that it was last year of any big rise in longevity which had risen for decades.
Since then the rise has flattened – in one year it actually fell – and last year was the first in five years that showed a small rise. Next year the ONS is warning will be the first year they will have figures of the effects of Covid-19 – and the hint is that longevity will fall because of the disproportionate deaths among pensioners.
The figures released by the ONS in this report yesterday cover three years from 2017 to 2019 – which statisticians say is more reliable than taking one year in isolation.
As you can see from this graph from the report illustrates longevity has largely flatlined. Women still live longer than men – but the greatest beneficiaries of rising longevity have been men. They are steadily catching up with women and the report wonders whether the huge drop in men smoking and moves from manual and agricultural work to less physical work in the office or behind a computer is the reason for this.
The report says: “Following decades of steady increases in life expectancy in the UK, a marked slowdown in the rate of improvements has been observed since 2011. Between 2002 to 2004 and 2009 to 2011, life expectancy at birth in the UK increased each year by an average of 16.7 weeks for males and 12.7 weeks for females. In contrast, between 2010 to 2012 and 2017 to 2019, these improvements slowed to an average of 6.3 weeks and 4.2 weeks per year for males and females respectively.”
The report also reveals another startling fact. When you compare the UK to many other developed countries both men and women have lost out big time in the longevity stakes. The countries that make up the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) are all near the bottom of the table only beaten by the United States.
Top of the league is fast growing South Korea followed by Denmark, Norway and Finland. The figures are for the number of extra weeks people can expect to live – comparing 2018 with 2011. Note again with the exception of Wales and the USA men have been the biggest gainers not women.
So while we all are being expected to wait longer for our pension in the UK, our extra weeks of life expectancy fall well below many comparable developed countries. We are being cheated – or at least not given the full facts – by our political leaders. So don’t believe any facile claims we have a world beating system for pensioners. Far from it.
Now the figures for this small rise in longevity are not uniform throughout the UK.
The lowest regional life expectancy for both males and females in 2017 to 2019 was observed in the North East; the North East’s life expectancy at birth was also lower than in the countries of Wales and Northern Ireland but higher than in Scotland.
Males living in the four most southerly regions of England had life expectancies at birth exceeding 80 years, whereas regions of the midlands and the north fell short of 80 years; London exceeded the North East region by almost three years.
Women live longest in the Outer Hebrides
The largest local area increase in life expectancy between 2009 to 2011 and 2017 to 2019 for males at birth was in Westminster, while for females it was in Scotland’s council area of Na h-Eileanan Siar. ( better known as the Outer Hebrides).
Live longer in London, die sooner in Blackpool
The statisticians comment:
“The rate of growth in life expectancy in London continues to surpass that occurring in other regions and the constituent countries of the UK. This has resulted in London now having the highest life expectancy for both males and females among regions in England.
“Four of the top five local areas with the highest male life expectancy in 2017 to 2019 were London boroughs, while three were for females. Since 2001 to 2003 traditional deprived parts of London such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney have seen strong gains in life expectancy over the time series. In fact, 17 of the top 20 local areas with the strongest growth in male life expectancy since 2001 to 2003 were London boroughs. This contrasts with Ceredigion where male life expectancy has only grown by 0.8 years since 2001 to 2003. These patterns add to the growing inequality observed across different areas of the UK over the past decade.”
This is heightened by other observations :
“Overall, for the UK, the difference was 11.3 years between Westminster, with the highest life expectancy at birth, and Glasgow City, with the lowest.
” For females, the local area gap in life expectancy at birth in England was 7.7 years between Westminster (87.2 years) and Blackpool (79.5 years), meaning Blackpool was the lowest in England for males and females. In Scotland, the gap stood at 5.5 years between East Renfrewshire (84.0 years) and Glasgow City (78.5 years). “
These findings must call into question whether there should be such a rush to raise the pension age – since the UK is both lagging behind other countries in life expectancy, has a huge inequality between the prosperous South and London and the North East ( Red Wall MPs please note). Finally the DWP is misrepresenting what is happening – both in its evidence to the judicial review over the raising of the pension age for women and to the nation as a whole. Longer life expectancy is tailing off not growing anywhere near the rate it did when decisions were made to raise the pension age.
Disclosure undermines ministry claim of no link between poverty and bad health and loss of state pension
Days after the Court of Appeal rejected the judicial review brought by the BackTo60 campaigners the House of Commons library produced a set of previously undisclosed figures showing huge leaps in the numbers of 50sborn women claiming universal credit[UC] or Jobseekers allowance[JSA] and employment and support allowance [ESA].
Claims for UC and JSA – which of course were non existent when the pension age was 60 – have gone up by an average of 382 per cent between 2013 and 2019. The figures are still relatively low (from 7582 to 36,531) but the trend is overwhelmingly upwards. It also excludes those who are battling on or using up savings rather than claim.
Claims for ESA – a difficult benefit to claim unless you are hospitalised and involving a 25 page questionnaire and work capacity assessment – have soared by 185 percent – to reach 205,385 -over the same six year period.
The figures are bound to be a huge underestimate as they take no account of the rule change that allowed people to claim the benefits if they had to stay at homebecause of Covid 19 this year. But they doallow a direct comparison during the period when the only big material change for this group of women was the loss of their state pension.
The disclosure of these figures -obviously not available at the time of the hearing – does undermine the forceful case made by Sir James Eadie, QC, who represented the Department of Work and Pensions, that any poverty or ill health suffered by these women could not be linked to the rise in the pension age to 66.
They also back up the argument made by Mr Mansfield who is quoted in the judgement: ” It is not uncommon for women born in the 1950s to have contracted various ailments and health problems by the time they reach their early 60s, because of the environment they lived in during their early years. He said further that it is common for women in this age group to be living in straitened circumstances particularly if they are now single, with part time jobs at best and working for low pay.
” It is also very common for them to be caring for elderly and infirm parents. He argued that the lack of state pension means that they have to resort to makeshift measures to make ends meet, selling their houses, using up their savings and cutting back on any non-essential spending so that they are not in a position to enjoy their retirement years.”
But the judges concluded: ” there is no sufficient causal link here between the withdrawal of the state pension from women in the age group 60 to 65 and the disadvantage caused to that group.
” The fact that poorer people are likely to experience a more serious adverse effect from the withdrawal of the pension and that groups who have historically been the victims of discrimination in the workplace are more likely to be poor does not make it indirectly discriminatory to apply the same criterion for eligibility to everyone, if that criterion is not more difficult for the group with the protected characteristic to satisfy.”
The figures also provide a useful constituency by constituency breakdown – showing an unequal distribution of the misery caused by ill health and failure to get as job depending on where you live. The guide would provide a very useful campaigning tool if people wish to lobby their MP over the bad treatment of 50s born women over their loss of pensions – as they can quote the figures back at their MP.
These are some of the top increases and the names of the MPs who were elected at the last election.
Knowsley 1388 pc rise from 8 to 119 George Howarth ( Lab)
Newcastle North 1347 pc rise from 6 to 88 Catherine McKinnell (Lab)
Morecombe and Lunesdale 1300 pc rise from 6 to 84 David Morris (Con)
Birmingham Yardley 1270 pc rise from 10 to 137 Jess Phillips (Lab)
Wells 1220 per cent rise from 5 to 66 James Heappey (Con)
Disabled and ESA biggest constituency percentage rises
Glasgow North East 315 pc rise from 214 to 889 Anne McLaughlin (SNP)
NE Hampshire 300 pc rise from 32 to 128 Ranil Jayawardena (Con)
Linlithgow and East Falkirk 292pc rise 149 to 584 Martyn Day (SNP)
Brecon and Radnorshire 292 pc rise from 77 to 302 Fay Jones (Con)
Leeds NE 291pc rise from 89 to348 Fabian Hamilton (Lab)
Glasgow SW 287pc rise from 205 to 794 Chris Stephens (SNP)
Interestingly Martyn Day is the one MP who challenged Boris Johnson about the court judgement at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
The full report is available here. You need to download the table on working age benefits 2020 to get all the info on the big increases in payments. There is also an up to date breakdown of the numbers of 50sborn women living in individual constituencies.
So again we yet have another disclosure backing up the case for the 50swomen to get their pensions.
Lawyers for Backto60 and the two complainants decided today to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to bring their case to the highest court in the UK.
The decision was taken after two of the Judges in the Court of Appeal, who heard their case, Lord Justice Sir Nicholas Underhill and Lady Justice Dame Vivien Rose, refused permission for them to go to the Supreme Court.
Applicants are allowed to go to the Supreme Court directly to plead their case to be heard if they are turned down by the Court of Appeal.
The decision was announced by Joanne Welch, the founder of Back to 60, appropriately during an interview with the BBC radio programme Woman’s Hour.
The decision comes after the Court of Appeal comprehensively rejected their case in a judgement announced on Tuesday. The judges ruled that the first judge , Ms Justice Lang, should not have allowed the judicial review to go ahead because it was a long time after the 1995 Act raising the pension age for women was passed. They agreed with the arguments put forward by Sir James Eadie, the Treasury Counsel, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions that they had been adequately consulted about the rise in the pension age from 60 to 65 announced in 1995 and later extended to 66 under the Pensions Act in 2011.
Some 3.8 million women were affected by the change which Michael Mansfield, Henrietta Hill and Adam Straw, argued amounted to both direct and indirect age and sex discrimination and had led to women born in the 1950s being driven into poverty and ill health. This was rejected by the judge, chaired by Sir Terence Etherton, Master of the Rolls.
Joanne Welch told Woman’s Hour “I know that Julie Delve and Karen Glynn have been actively considering next steps. I believe that they are going to go ahead with an application for permission to have this heard in the Supreme Court”.
Plans to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case are now being drawn up by the legal team after Joanne Welch confirmed that the decision was taken at a meeting today.
I have spent this morning reading the 21,000 word judgement of the Court of Appeal led by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton.
For the faint hearted I warn you this will make grim reading. But I think the women who have fought so hard to get their pensions back need to be properly informed about the logic used by the judges to come to their decision. It doesn’t mean I agree with it.
Their judgement will cause widespread misery and angst for the women themselves and total delight for the government, ministers, the Department for Work and Pensions and the small number of vocal detractors, mainly from the financial advice and private pensions industry, who didn’t want the women to get a penny.
Appeal on four grounds
The appeal was on four main grounds each of which were dismissed by the judges. Since it is a judicial review it depended a lot on case law which ranged from an immigration case, the bedroom tax, to a sex change case and to EU law and the Convention of Human Rights. It even included a novel way of approaching the law to consultation from Michael Mansfield QC.
To a lay person the case law might sound bizarre but the aim of the lawyers representing the women is to draw out rulings from these diverse set of cases to benefit the cause of the 50swomen to get their money back.
The four grounds for appeal were age discrimination according to an article from the European Convention of Human Rights; indirect sex discrimination or sex/age discrimination;notification and delay.
On the first case the judges rejected it. – citing they could not overrule an Act of Parliament.
“Despite that evidence and despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court, feel for the Appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the Parliamentary process. “
They did concede that women got lower state pensions than men.
Women pensioners’ life expectancy – a strain on public fiances
“DWP figures in August 2018 for the mean weekly amount of state pension for men was £158.87 and for women £131.27. Though they may have shorter life expectancy, men will still receive much more state pension than women even taking into account that women live for two years longer. That does not, however, undermine the point that the SSWP [ Secretary of State for DWP] makes that longer life expectancy for women places a strain on public finances,(my emphasis) even if they would have received a lower pension over the years 60 – 65 than a man would receive.”
They rejected the indirect and age/ sex discrimination saying any EU directives allowing a differential age for men and women were a temporary measure.
women carry out 60 per cent more unpaid work than men
The judges note the argument that 50s women are hard done by. They quote facts” that women carry out an average of 60 per cent more unpaid work than men; 86 per cent of single parents are women and single parents have a higher risk of poverty than any other household type. In the 50 – 64 year old age group, women are much more likely to give up work than men because of caring responsibilities. The Appellants submit that it is therefore indirectly discriminatory, subject to the question of justification, for the state pension to be withdrawn from them because their gender adversely affected their ability to earn a living.”
But they recoil from accepting the arguments for fear that a victory would lead to a flood of new demands from other groups.
“it becomes clear what a significant expansion of the law would result from such a broad application … It is undoubtedly the case that many groups have traditionally suffered discrimination in the workplace because their protected characteristic meant that there were fewer opportunities open to them for advancement in stable, well-paid work. That is the case not only for women but for disabled people, for lone parents, for some BME groups and for transgender people.”
They conclude that the state pension is a universal not a means tested benefit therefore it should not be used to right problems caused by discrimination – that should be left to other measures in the political field.
“In our judgement.. there is no sufficient causal link here between the withdrawal of the state pension from women in the age group 60 to 65 and the disadvantage caused to that group. The fact that poorer people are likely to experience a more serious adverse effect from the withdrawal of the pension and that groups who have historically been the victims of discrimination in the workplace are more likely to be poor does not make it indirectly discriminatory to apply the same criterion for eligibility to everyone.”
DWP gave ” adequate and reasonable notification”
On consultation they buy the argument from the DWP that there was enough consultation going back to 1991 when the pension age change was first debated and they cast doubt on even sending a direct mail to everyone on the grounds that people might not read it anyway..
” We therefore dismiss Ground 3 of the appeal on the basis that there was no duty to notify those affected by the change in state pension age and that the Divisional Court were entitled to conclude as a fact that there has been adequate and reasonable notification given by the publicity campaigns implemented by the Department over a number of years.”
Criticism of Ms Justice Lang
Finally they condemn Ms Justice Lang for allowing the judicial review in the first place on the grounds that it was already out of time.
They castigate her for extending the time limit.
“Unlawful legislation is not a continuing unlawful act in the sense that the time limit for challenging it by way of judicial review rolls forward for as long as the legislation continues to apply. If that were the test, there would effectively be no time limit for challenging primary or secondary legislation or for that matter administrative conduct which continues to affect a claimant unless or until the action is withdrawn or revised.”
Lawyers for BackTo60 have asked the judges for permission to appeal their judgement.
Their judgement today shows what a big struggle it is to convince people of their case but it doesn’t meant it is wrong to fight this injustice for 3.8 million people.
The Court of Appeal has announced that the long awaited judgement on the Backto60 case covering 3.8 million women who had to wait up to six years for their delayed pension will be made on September 15.
The judgement will be delivered by email to the two claimants on behalf of BackTo60 campaign and the Department for Work and Pensions. The judgement will be put on the judiciary website.
The official notice published today reads:
NOTICE Take notice that on TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER, 2020 at 10.30, Judgment will be given in the following. APPEAL From The Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court and Divisional Court) FINAL DECISIONS C1/2019/2914 The Queen on the application of Delve & Anr -v- The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Covid-19 Protocol: This judgment will be handed down remotely by circulation to the parties or their representatives by email, release to BAILII and publication on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website. The date and time for hand-down will be deemed to be TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER, 2020 at 10.30.
A copy of the judgment in final form as handed down should be available on the Judiciary website (www.judiciary.uk) or BAILII shortly thereafter but can otherwise be obtained on request by email to the Judicial Office.
The decision will be on the merits of whether the DWP handled the policy change properly and whether the women suffered discrimination not on the merits of the plight of the women.
If the judges decide that there were faults in the system the women will have won and be entitled to compensation. If they decide that the DWP acted properly within the law they will lose.
The case has received the attention of three of the most powerful judges in the Court of Appeal.
They are the Master of the Rolls, 69 year old Sir Terence Etherton; Lord Justice Sir Nicholas Underhill, 68, and Lady Justice Dame Vivien Rose,60.
The DWP engaged Sir James Eadie known as the ” Treasury devil” – one of the most powerful lawyers employed by the government, to argue their case.
BackTo60 brought in Michael Mansfield, one of the leading human rights lawyers as part of their team.
This new film released today covers both the reaction to the Judicial Review hearing last month and the birth of the People’s Tribunal. It also shows that under BackTo60’s leadership the two are interlinked.
The BackTo60 campaign was aimed to help 3.8 million women born in the 1950s get full restitution for their pensions. The People’s Tribunal has a hugely enlarged audience covering all women and girls in the United Kingdom and seeking to end the discrimination against all women.
Both are linked by injustice. The 50sWomen campaign wants restitution for the implementation of unfair laws – the 1995, 2007 and 2011 Pensions Act because of the adverse effect on one large group of women.
The People’s Tribunal want the UK to bring into domestic law the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).
The UK is already signed up to the convention – Margaret Thatcher did so in 1986 – but unlike other countries has not put the convention into UK law. The UK has also never appointed a representative to sit on the UN committee in Geneva either.
Any such legislation would transform women’s rights to fight discrimination and have a massive effect on the legal system of this country.
It would also give women a massive confidence boost that they would know beyond doubt they are equal to men and if they are treated any worse than men have a powerful tool to pursue any injustice through law.
Some people might think that in modern Britain women already do have equal rights with men. But when you think that despite equal pay laws and an Equality Act under the Blair Labour government, many women still do not have equal pay now nor do they have equal progression in their chosen career.
Despite strides – including all women short lists – there is not equal representation in Parliament among MPs and women more than men suffer domestic abuse.
Professor Jackie Jones, who was an expert witness in the judicial review and is part of the People’s Tribunal team, explains all of this very well in another YouTube video which you can watch below.
Finally all this going to cost money and today the People’s Tribunal launch a big crowdfunding appeal to set up and run the tribunal. They need to raise £75,000 but it will be worth every penny. The link top the crowdfunder is here.
Revised figure doubled for ” men only national insurance subsidy”
The Department for Work and Pensions has revised the estimated number of men over 60 who received what are known as ” auto credits” towards getting a full pension from 4.65m to 9.8m between 1983 and 2018.
The 4.65 million figure was already staggeringly high but the new figure is more than double the number previously disclosed. It is also well over double the number of 1950s born women who are currently waiting for their pension for up to six years.
The scale of the payments has been kept quiet by the Department for Work and Pensions for 37 years. It was only revealed last month when Myfanwy Opeldus, one of 3.8 million women facing now a six year delay to get her pension, got the admission from the ministry through a Freedom of Information request.
Letter issued after court hearing
Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to her again raising the figure to 9.8 million. The letter came just after the Court of Appeal hearing into the judicial review this week heard about the plight of women affected by the rise in the pension age and was told by Michael Mansfield about the men receiving ” auto credits” which was not known at the time of the first judicial review.
The new disclosure makes it even more galling for the women who were originally promised they would have their national insurance contributions paid between 2010 and 2018 only to have the offer withdrawn a year before it was due to start. A number have had to pay thousands of pounds to make up the sum for a full pension while others simply have not been able to afford it.
The letter does say that not all 9.8 million men would have benefited as some would have died, others would have full insurance records and some would have been working abroad.
enormous subsidy for men
Nevertheless the scale of the subsidy must be enormous and a benefit for people years after it was offered by Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Chancellor of Exchequer in 1983, to encourage men to get off the dole to keep the very high unemployment numbers down at the time.
This story seems to get worse and worse so let us hope there will some justice from the courts for all the women concerned.
Judges are inscrutable. Like wise old owls you can never be sure what they are thinking. This week’s two day hearing of the Court of Appeal into the rejected judicial review on behalf of 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who saw their pension age rise from 60 to 66 was no exception.
However the proceedings were extraordinary for a number of reasons. For a start the introduction of new technology clashed with the traditional proceedings of the courts.
Hit by Covid 19, the Court of Appeal decided that ” public interest ” in the case was so great that it should be live streamed with some of the judges and lawyers contributing via video link. They were justified with audiences over 2000 peaking at one point to just below 4000 – Court No 71 could never hold anything near that number ever, Covid 19 or not. Now two days later it has been seen by over 16,000 people.
For the first day it worked. But during the second day it ran into a number of technical problems -including cutting people off. And at the very end of the day the technology fizzled out for me so I didn’t see the very last part of the hearing . I have now seen it and Michael Mansfield makes a strong defence of why 50s women have been so badly affected by the delay in the pension age, citing one case where a woman contemplated suicide. He also emphasised the failure to notify people properly, saying there was a common law duty to do so.
Henrietta Hill was questioned by the judges about indirect and direct sex and age discrimination and how the lawyers saw their case being applied.
The judges reserved judgement which means it could be a few months before there is a decision.
Judges were engaged
The three judges presiding over the hearing were engaged with the debate.. The Master of the Rolls, 69 year old Sir Terence Etherton, is also president of the Property Bar Association and chairman of the Trust Law Committee and a visiting professor at Birkbeck College. In his youth he was a fencer and a member of the GB International Fencing Team, including being selected for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
Lord Justice Sir Nicholas Underhill, 68, is a former president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal so well versed in complex cases. He also is a former Attorney General to the Prince of Wales.
Lady Justice Dame Vivien Rose,60, is the most recently appointed appeal judge of the three, is an expert in EU and UK competition law, tax, has been a Treasury legal adviser and held a post in the Ministry of Defence as Director of Operations and International Humanitarian Law during the Gulf War. Unlike the other two judges, who were educated at public schools, she was educated at a London comprehensive school and is the first lawyer in her family. She also sings in a choir.
Given this expertise of the judges it was extraordinary that Sir James Eadie, QC, the Treasury First Counsel, nicknamed the ” Treasury devil” should try to get the Judicial review declared unlawful.
He was building on the questioning in the previous judicial review which raised whether Ms Justice Dame Beverley Lang was right in granting the judicial review for the 3.8 million women in the first place.
He was shot down with a rapier like comment from the Master of the Rolls who pointed out he could have raised this immediately after her judgement at a special hearing and again when the judicial review was heard.
” Not in my brief” -Sir James Eadie
His reply was “it was not in my brief from the DWP ” and talked about ” the bigger picture”. My interpretation of that is Amber Rudd, then works and pensions secretary, would have been well aware that to strike out a review for 3.8 million women would have been political dynamite and caused widespread furore well beyond the actual case.
But Sir James persisted citing judgments which said that the case could have been held in 1995 as soon as the Pension Act was passed. Michael Mansfield,QC dealt with that claim in his summing up.
What is important is that the judges were really engaged with the arguments and tested both sides equally. They looked at the notification ( or non) notification issue of the pension age rise, listened to the arguments involving EU law and the relevance of the UN Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and noted the auto credits issue which allowed 4.6 million men over 60 from 1983 to 2018 to have their national insurance contributions paid by the state.
Sir James Eadie’s tactics seem to be to try and get most of the case law raised by Adam Straw and Henrietta Hill for the 50swomen ruled as irrelevant.
At one point the Master of the Rolls intervened to point out to Sir James that Adam Straw’s argument about one particular case was aimed at making a specific legal point not about the content of the case.
The other DWP tactic was to use out of date information. Sir James used 2011 as the reference for the continuing rise in longevity ( and pension payment costs) – the high point of the increase – ignoring it flatlining since. This I gather was corrected by Michael Mansfield later.
Sir James also got it wrong when he said the purpose of the case was to reduce the pension age to 60 for all women. It isn’t. It is to fully compensate the 3.8 million women who feel cheated about waiting six years for a pension and not being properly told about the change.
The DWP switched tactics over the economic plight of the 1950s women – in the original judicial review he made great play of the fact they were not worse off but some were well off.
This time he acknowledged that 1950s women faced economic disadvantages and social ills but these, he argued, were nothing to do with the raising of the pension age.
For people watching this case it must have seemed a bit arcane that it is based on case law rather than – though Michael Mansfield did highlight their catastrophic plight – going into detail of the hardships of 50swomen. Full statements on the hardships faced by the two women cited in the case were passed to the judges by Michael Mansfield.
Now for a judgment. The point of a judicial review is to question the administration of a policy to see if it was fit for purpose and had not disadvantaged people.
Therefore don’t expect a judgement ordering the women must have all the money. But you could expect a judgement saying the system cheated them which will have to lead to action by the government to redress the matter.
Either way win or lose the BackTo60 campaign will be considerably enhanced by the outcome of this case – because it highlights the women’s plight and will be a force to reckon with. Going to law is much more powerful than trying to persuade MPs.
After all very few campaigners can claim to have their case examined by the Master of the Rolls and I know BackTo60 lawyers are delighted that they got an appeal on all the points they raised in the first judicial review.
BackTo60 yesterday launched a new campaign to get the United Kingdom to implement something they should done 34 years ago – pass laws to both empower and eliminate all discrimination against women.
For 1986 is the year Margaret Thatcher decided to sign up to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ( acronym CEDAW) but failed to put through Parliament any laws to back it up.
This should not be a Left versus Right issue – since Thatcherites and Corbynites and anybody in between- should agree. Unless they still hold the nineteenth century view that half the nation are inferior and should not have equal rights with men.
BackTo60 decided to launch this because next week’s Court of Appeal hearing on the government’s denial to pay back the 3.8 million women born in the 1950s their pensions from 60 to 66 – also involve the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – because there was no level playing field for women to get their pension in the first place.
This enormously broadens BackTo 60’s campaign since it involves campaigning for the rights of half the population.
The mechanism they have chosen to bring this to public attention is a People’s Tribunal – these date back to the 1960s when the Bertrand Russell Foundation – held an inquiry into the US role in the Vietnam War.
This new tribunal is expected to consist of three independent ( probably retired) judges and led by the advocate John Cooper QC. a human rights and criminal law barrister, who is regarded by the Times as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country, and was on the tribunal that investigated atrocities in Iran.
Two other key members are Professor Jackie Jones,a former MEP for Wales and Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of West England , a leading advocate and expert on CEDAW and Hannah Manzur, a former EU Gender Policy Advisor at the European Parliament,. Here is the full statement:
John Cooper said the issue should not be controversial – ” it is like motherhood and apple pie”.
He said the tribunal should have three main goals – independence, transparency and authenticity.
” There are three main areas to investigate: Why CEDAW has never put into UK law; whether there was any good reason for not doing so, and most importantly, to make recommendations on what should happen next.”
He added that he was already having support for the idea from a number of leading figures.
Jackie Jones said on the launch: ” Enough is Enough. We have waited nearly 40 years for this. It high time this is written into law and it is really important that girls now at school should be able to reach their full potential.”
Hannah Manzur said :
“We are delighted to announce the establishment of the CEDAW People’s Tribunal which will act as a powerful tool in both pushing for progress on gender equality and shining a light on the Government’s failure to uphold its binding promise to take proactive and comprehensive steps to eliminate gender discrimination.
” Forty years after this groundbreaking international convention was signed by the Government, women and girls still face overwhelming barriers to achieving their full potential due to persistent inequality and discrimination.
“This Tribunal will collect an authoritative body of evidence and expertise which will be reviewed and deliberated on by a panel of independent judges.
” We will be working to assess the gap between the Government’s commitment to CEDAW and its record on gender equality, including its failure to transpose CEDAW into domestic law and appoint a UK CEDAW representative. It’s time for us to hold the Government to account on its duty to eliminate discrimination against women and make gender equality a reality for women and girls across the UK.”
The only thing I have to add is that I shall be backing this campaign with the same vigour I have showed in reporting and investigating the BackTo60 campaign for full restitution for the 3.8m women who lost out on the raising of the pension age.