This up beat film rightly pitches the mood of a generation of women who are not going to lie down and lose tens of thousands of pounds each because of a cruel, incompetent government which thought it could get away with raising the pension age without telling them.
It is a worthy rebuke to George Osborne, the multi millionaire former Tory chancellor and editor of the Evening Standard who once boasted about the removal of the benefit:
“I’ve found it one of the less controversial things we’ve done and probably saved more money than anything else we’ve done.“
Instead he has left the Department of Work and Pensions with a multi million pound legal bill and that’s only for starters. If the women win it is going to be one of the most costly decisions George Osborne has ever made.
The 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who lost lost billions
of pounds by the raising of the pension age from 60 to 66 had no right to
expect to be told about the changes to their pensions, lawyers for the Department
of Work and Pensions told a judicial review today.
Sir James Eadie,QC, on behalf of Amber Rudd, the current work and pensions secretary, argued that the women had no legal remedy to get their money back because the judges hearing the case could not challenge the primary legislation which authorised the change. He said constitutional grounds prevented the judges challenging any major primary legislation passed by Parliament.
Internal Whitehall documents released yesterday reveal that
the Department of Work and Pensions secretly knew on six separate occasions that there
was “ widespread ignorance “ among 3.8 million women born in the 1950s that
they were about to lose their pensions for up to six years.
The disclosure by Michael Mansfield, QC came on the first day of a landmark judicial review brought by the campaigning group Back to 60 into the raising of the pension age from 60 to 66 which has left this group of women living in poverty after they had relied on the money for their retirement.
UPDATE: Since this blog was written the dates for the hearing were changed to June 5 and June 6.
The historic hearing into whether 3.9 million 50s born women have been cheated out of their state pension by the government has been set by the High Court for May 24.
The date is later than expected because the Department for Work and Pensions expected to win the hearing for permission to bring the review on November 30 brought by BackTo60 campaigning group and thought they would stop the process in its tracks.
Now the Department has been allowed more time to prepare its case as all of its initial arguments to stop the review were thrown out by the judge.
The Hon Ms Justice Lang – who is also known as Dame Beverley Ann Macnaughton Lang – ruled in favour of all the issues raised by barristers Catherine Rayner and Michael Mansfield on behalf of the women.
This means the government will have to answer whether the decision to raise the state pension age from 60 to 65 and then 66 amounted to age and equality discrimination. The key point is that the judge decided that although the legislation dated back to 1995 the present effects of the change is causing hardship to a specific group of women who were not able to fully contribute to the national insurance fund.
The original hearing also led the government to admit that further changes introduced by the coalition government in 2011 had been part of an austerity programme and reveal that the private pensions industry is also against the women winning their case as it could have a knock on effect on private occupational pensions that are tied to the state pension age.
The issue of maladministration will not be the main feature of the case as this is being dealt with by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Cases of discrimination and resulting hardship can still be brought by MPs to the Ombudsman. And recently Ben Lake, the Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion filed a case on behalf of a constituent.
Joanne Welch, spokeswoman, said
” BackTo60 .com had a resounding victory on 30th November 2018 and our amazing World Class Legal Team pressed home our advantage for a 2-Day Substantive Hearing. “The substantial significance of our argument has been recognised by the authorities and the case has been elevated to a higher level for determination – this has necessarily involved an alteration of hearing dates. ” There will now be a much more thorough and robust review as the case will take on an historic perspective and achieve national significance: it will be heard, May 2019, at the Divisional Court. Our collective impetus is working so well, thanks to each one of you. Long may it be so.”
Today I am putting up on my website a documentary film released today made by the Backto60 campaign who have interviewed women now in their early 60s who suddenly found that they weren’t going to get their pension when they retired at 60. Some of them sadly have committed suicide, some have thought of committing suicide.
They are angry at both the coalition and present Tory government decided to change the pension age without any notice so they can plan. They are the people who have worked all their loves and brought up families, often sacrificing their opportunity to work. Some have even put extra money into their pension, only to find they won’t get it until they are 66.
The government shows no sign of giving in to them – in fact ministers like David Gauke, the works and pensions secretary, have frozen other benefits instead- and if the Tories had a majority now would be pressing to end winter fuel allowances, free bus passes and the triple lock that guarantees pensions will rise by 2.5 per cent a year.
There is a contribution from Ken Loach, the radical film maker and pensioner himself, who made the searing film, I, Daniel Blake, about the trials and tribulations of being on social security after you have lost your job.