Jocelynne Scutt, president of the Convention for Ending all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Tribunal, yesterday delivered her report on the plight of 50s born women to Rishi Sunak, the new Prime Minister, at Downing Street.
The report, to be officially published at the end of this month, is the latest move to press for full restitution for the women who had to wait 6 years to get their pension. It is timely reminder to the government which is about implement big tax rises and spending cuts that this issue will not go away for the 3.6 million people who lost out.
Jocelynne Scutt, President of the CEDAW Tribunal; Janet Chapman, Ian Byrne’s Parliamentary Assistant, and Ian Byrne, Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby, who tabled a Parliamentary motion call for full restitution, pictured outside Parliament
Jocelynne Scutt gave a speech outlining the main issues and Ian Byrne wholeheartedly backing the campaign. See it on a video here.
Ian Byrne’s Parliamentary motion now has 75 signatures from MPs. The latest MPs to sign include more Labour MPs such as Qureshi Yasmin, Bolton, South East; Karl Turner, Kingston-upon-Hull, East: Dan Jarvis, Barnsley Central; and Khalid Mahmood, Birmingham, Perry Barr and Clive Betts, Sheffield South East.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse and MP for Bath is the first member of the party to sign.
The issue is very popular in Northern Ireland with all MPs in the Democratic Unionist Party signing plus a member from Social Democrat Labour Party and the Alliance. Eight MPs from Scottish National Party have signed and two from Alba Party. There are also a number of ex Labour MPs now Independents have signed, the latest being Dr Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and South Acton.
It is noticeable that not a single Conservative MP has signed the new motion though many signed the motion in the last Parliament calling for full restitution.
Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me tocontinue my forensic reporting and campaigning.
And a Parliamentary Petition is laid to change another pension injustice affecting millions
The chaotic and collapsing government of Liz Truss is facing rival demands to settle the long running dispute affecting 3.6 million 1950s born women demanding compensation for maladministration and inequality over the six year delay in paying their pension.
Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby, has tabled a motion supporting Backto60’s demand for full restitution of the lost money – up to £50,000 in some cases- payable through a special temporary Parliamentary measure – to avoid changing the 1995 Pensions Act which set the higher retirement age for women.
Some 35 MPs have backed him including the former Labour shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who got Labour to back a £58 billion compensation package in the 2019 election campaign; former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and host of other Labour MPs, including Ian Lavery, Tony Lloyd, Mike Amesbury, Richard Burgon and Clive Lewis. It is also supported by Alison Thewlis, the SNP Treasury spokesperson and Chris Stephens, SNP Fair Work and Employment spokesman. Two members of the Democratic Unionist Party, Jim Shannon and Gregory Campbell, also backed the motion. The full list is here.
The initiative from Waspi involves getting its members to send a template letter to their MP asking them to back their version of compensation for 50s women. For avoidance of any doubt here is the full text which would be sent to Chloe Smith, the new work and pensions secretary.
Chloe Smith MP
Secretary of State
Department for Work and Pensions
London, SW1H 9NA
XX October 2022
Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State!
I write in the hope that you may be able to ‘reset’ the government’s relationship with the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, whom I met during the Summer Recess.
Parliamentary answers (see UIN14559) confirm that no Minister in your department has met the campaign since 2016, which is something I am hoping that you and colleagues will be prepared to put right.
As you will know, last year the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found that the Department was guilty of maladministration, in failing to communicate significant changes to the State Pension Age, which were legislated for in 1995. Specifically, the PHSO has concluded “the opportunity that additional notice would have given them to adjust their retirement plans was lost…DWP failed to take adequate account of the need for targeted and individually tailored information… Despite having identified there was more it could do, it failed to provide the public with as full information as possible.”
While the PHSO is continuing to investigate the harm caused to women born in the 1950s, as a result of this maladministration, CEO Amanda Amroliwala has also made clear that the government need not wait for further reports before making an offer of compensation. In a letter to our parliamentary colleague, Andrew Gwynne, she said, “We must now consider the impact of these failings on the women affected and what recommendations may be needed to remedy any associated injustice. We have suggested to the Department for Work and Pensions that they consider being proactive in this respect”.
Meanwhile, WASPI have recently commissioned research which establishes that, by the end of this year, 220,000 women will have died waiting for compensation since their campaign began in 2015. Sadly, another woman dies every 14 minutes.
I have been struck during my conversations with the campaigners that they are therefore extremely pragmatic about achieving a resolution quickly. They are not looking for a long fight with the government, preferring to accept a fair, fast one-off sum for those whose retirements have been devastated by mistakes made at DWP. Specifically, they are not looking to receive ‘lost’ pension amounts, but rather to be compensated for the maladministration at DWP, which caused them to take decisions they might not otherwise have taken, had they been given proper notice of changes to the law. Quite sensibly, they are suggesting higher levels of compensation for those given the shortest notice of the longest delay to receipt of their State Pension.
They have been through four stages of complaint at DWP and now face two further stages of the PHSO process. All the while more of the women affected die waiting, so they are keen to see the proactivity suggested by the PHSO from your department.
Would you prepared to meet with me and with Angela Madden, the Chair of the campaign, together – both so that you can understand the (surprisingly reasonable and pragmatic) position of the campaign, and that they can hear directly from you?
While both they and I recognise that you could not make immediate commitments in any such meeting, I do believe it would be helpful to open a dialogue now rather than have the group getting more and more frustrated that government will not talk to them. The PHSO’s ongoing investigation is not a reason to postpone discussion, since the substance of maladministration has already been confirmed.
At some point, government (of whichever political stripe) is going to be required by the Ombudsman to make an offer of compensation, so it makes sense to begin the conversation now rather than brooking further delay, during which time – sadly – more and more of the affected women will pass away.
WASPI want compensation for maladministration and nothing for restitution
The letter is a massive reduction on the demands made by the MPs. For a start they want NO rather than FULL restitution for the up to £50,000 lost by 3.6millionpensioners. Instead they want an unspecified payment before the Ombudsman decides what level of compensation for maladministration. There is no mention of the £10,000 to £20,000 a head compensation promised by Angela Madden to the 50 people attending the Labour Party fringe meeting last month.
There also is a misconception that the Department for Work and Pensions is required by the Ombudsman to meet them after he has issued his report. This is not true the Ombudsman has no power to require anybody to follow his decisions – as has been shown ( see below) in another case where millions of pensioners have been cheated out of a Guaranteed Minimum Pension also promised in the 1990s.
Finally the letter speaking for the 3.6 million people say they are “reasonable and extremely pragmatic people” quite happy to accept a fast buck settlement of few quid to end this dispute. This is not reflected in the comments I receive on this site.. People are livid, angry, despairing of politicians and feel deliberately cheated by the Establishment of what they see rightly as their dues. They are fed up about being thought to be a soft touch just because they are older women. They are prepared to take on the government and refuse to vote for any politician determined to deprive them of their lost pensions.
New petition on Guaranteed Minimum Pensions
Meanwhile a Parliamentary petition has been tabled by Chris Thompson, a retired pensions expert, to restore indexation for a guaranteed minimum state pension for people outside the public sector.
“I want the Government to change the law to reinstate uprating of state pensions in respect of contracted out occupational pensions known as Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMP).
“I believe it is not fair that the DWP ceased to uprate state pensions in respect of certain pension entitlements when the new state pension was introduced. I believe this with done without adequate consultation or notice, and should be reversed. “Sign this petition
This followed a victory for two people after they complained of maladministration ( sounds familiar) by the DWP in not informing them of the change depriving them of indexation when the new pension came into force. The Ombudsman laid down what the DWP should to inform people of their rights, but the DWP has not followed this through properly and refused to engaged with anyone. Over a lifetime this could be worth thousands of pounds of lost pensions – and I urge 50swomen to sign this to put more pressure on the DWP. You might be entitled to extra compensation as well as your claim for your lost pensions.
Finally I don’t like to be the harbinger of bad news -but the total disaster of Liz Truss’s government – means we are now going to be faced with a further two years of austerity after she wrecked the British economy.
Sadly this will mean that the government will be extremely reluctant to compensate other people on top of subsidising people’s energy bills and introducing measures to balance the books. I see Angela Madden has managed to get a meeting with former Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt, the current leader of the Commons, who appears to be involved in a plot to topple Truss with Rishi Sunak. The trouble is it is the DWP who are the ministry who will decide this – and they have just been asked by Jeremy Hunt to impose more cuts on top of long term savings to sack 91,000 civil servants across Whitehall. I can’t see them having any interest in settling this at the moment.
One bright spot will be a report by Australian judge Jocelynne Scutt is expected to pull together all the injustices in this case following the tribunal earlier this year. The report is imminent.
Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me to continue my forensic reporting
Backto60 brought their campaign for full restitution to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe over the Bank Holiday weekend with the help of two Scottish women actors and comedians.
For half an hour at Edinburgh’s St Andrews Square Sandra McNeely and Julie Coombe, who are well known on Scottish TV, tell the tough story of the fight for 3.8 million 50s born women to get full restitution for their lost pensions when successive governments increased the pension age from 60 to 66 with all the facts, interspersed with songs, poetry and jokes.
The no holds bar performance castigated everyone from George Osborne, the former Chancellor to Guy Opperman, the current pensions minister, and of course, Boris Johnson. It gave a really good synopsis of injustice facing this group of women ending with the sad fact that during the half hour performance two more women would have died without ever receiving their pension.
Sandra McNeely has appeared in the TV series, Taggart, Happy Hollidays, Scot Squad, and the drama Ashes available on Amazon Prime.
Julie Coombe has appeared on TV in Hope Springs and on stage recently in Lena! and Hormonal Housewives.
Both are very supportive of the Backto60 campaign and gave pro bono performances with the aim of spreading the word to festival fringe audiences. You can watch the video above.
Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me to continue my reporting.
A Labour MP has tabled a fresh Parliamentary motion backing the case for women born in the 1950s to have repaid all the money they lost by the six year delay in receiving their pension. For some people this could be as high as £50,000.
Ian Byrne, Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby, tabled the new motion this morning reigniting the issue which the government want dead and buried after the campaign group Back to 60 lost in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The full test of the motion is:
“That this House welcomes the positive interventions from so many hon. Members from across the House on behalf of women born in the 1950s who have lost their pensions; and pays tribute to constituents and campaigners in their ongoing fight for justice; recalls that women born in the 1950s were subject to discriminatory employment and pension laws; recognises that this included being excluded from some pensions schemes; recognises that this had the negative effect for them of losing the opportunity to have the same level of pension as their partner or spouse; further recognises that this has had the consequence of women in this position never being able to have equal pensions to men; further notes that this has negatively and profoundly impacted on them including increased poverty, deteriorating health and homelessness; notes that at least 3.8 million women have been impacted by the loss of their pensions from the age of 60 in three separate age hikes; and calls on the Government to enact a temporary special measure as permitted by international law to provide full restitution to women born in the 1950s who have lost their pensions from the age of 60 because of the impact of the rise in retirement age. “
50s women unjustly treated
While Parliamentary motions are rarely debated publication of this motion acts as a noticeboard to other MPs and ministers that there is a still a very strong feeling in Westminster that the women have been unjustly treated.
It is significant that the motion tells the government that there is a mechanism in Parliament that they can use to implement the change – known as the special temporary measure- which would lead to the women being paid quickly.
It comes at the time when through ill health and Covid 19 some 204,000 women have already died before they get their pensions.
It is also significant as it shows that there are MPs in Parliament who think that the state pension inequality for women all party parliamentary group does not go far enough in redressing the issue. This group, chaired by Labour MP Andrew Gwynne and Tory MP Peter Aldous, has submitted proposals to Robert Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, asking for him to offer a minimum of £10,000 compensation to the women. This proposal backed by WASPI has two drawbacks. First the Ombudsman has to agree and given his report only found partial maladministration between 1995 and 2010 he may decide not to agree such a high sum. And he has no power to force the government to accept his recommendations beyond shaming them.
This new motion is backed by 15 MPs including John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, and Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader. It is perhaps rather ironic that if Labour had won the last general election compensation might have already agreed as John McDonnell promised a £58 billion pay out to correct the injustice.
Other MPs backing the move include Jim Shannon, the DUP social care and health spokesman, and Labour MPs, Kim Johnson, Beth Winter, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Zarah Sultana, Ian Mearns, Kate Osborne. Nadia Whittome, Grahame Morris, and Jon Trickett.
Jon Trickett has linked his support to his local Waspi group, showing that they favour full restitution.
The motion also has the support of Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem spokesperson for Justice and women and equalities, and independent MP Claudia Webb.
UPDATE: Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP and joint chair of the APPG state pension inequality for women, told BackTo 60, he had no objection to MPs from his group signing Ian Byrne’s motion.
He said” I see no conflict between it and the APPG’s submission to the PHSO.”
Nine more MPs have signed the motion including five SNP MPs, Chris Stephens, Glasgow South West; Allan Dorans, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock and Deidre Brock, Edinburgh North and Leith, Amy Callaghan, East Dumbartonshire and Chris Law, Dundee West. The other three MPs are Labour and SDLP – Dan Carden, Liverpool Walton; Ian Lavery, Wansbeck and Aspana Begum, Poplar and Limehouse, Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield; Sir George Howarth, Knowsley, and Hannah Claire, Belfast South.
In another development the Pensions Reform Alliance and Waspi have said they do not want 50swomen to get full restitution. Members of the Alliance put out misleading information that this Parliamentary motion would somehow influence Robert Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, from recommending compensation for the 3.8 million women. This is complete nonsense as it would not impinge on anything the Parliamentary Ombudsman would recommend and MPs are entitled to express their opinions.
Please donate to my blog to allow me to continue my forensic investigations
A truly damning report by MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee today castigates the Department for Work and Pensions for running an “unfit for purpose” system to pay pensions to more than 12 million people.
The scandal of 134,000 pensioners being underpaid by around £1 billion dates back over 37 years and a number have already died before they could receive the money. The MPs say: “The errors happened because of the Department’s use of outdated systems and heavily manual processing, coupled with complacency in monitoring errors and a quality assurance framework that is not fit for purpose.”
The report says: “Managing Public Money requires Departments who make mistakes to put them right and restore people as far as possible to the situation they would have been in had the error not occurred. However, the Department is seeking only to pay people their legal entitlement in arrears, in some cases many years after the event, and has treated people inconsistently in paying interest on their arrears.”
Meanwhile another report from the All Party Parliamentary Group On State Pension Equality for Women submitted to Rob Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, on behalf of 3.8 million women who have faced delays of up to six years before receiving their pension falls short of asking for full restitution for the women.
Instead it is asking the Parliamentary Ombudsman to recommend that the women should receive a minimum of £10,000 each because of heartrending stories of poverty and hardship.
“Women have had their emotional, physical, and mental circumstances totally obliterated by a lack of reasonable notice. These impacts must be addressed, if we are to reach any kind of conclusion regarding this injustice”, it says.
The proposal is far better than the unspecified figure by the same committee prior to the 2019 election but falls substantially short for people who have lost £40,000 to £50,000 by the DWP refusing to entertain any payment at all.
The Public Accounts Committee report on the pensions underpayments is unflinching in its criticism of the DWP. It points out that 40,000 of those owed money are now dead adding:”94,000 pensioners are estimated to be alive, which represents approximately 0.9% of those currently claiming the pre-2016 basic State Pension.
These official errors affect pensioners who first claimed State Pension before April 2016 and who do not have a full National Insurance record or who should have inherited additional entitlement from their deceased partner.
90 per cent of the people hit by underpayments are women
” Around 90% of the pensioners underpaid are women because of the types of State Pension claim affected. The Department does not expect to trace over 15,000 of the affected pensioners or their next of kin where the pensioner is deceased. On average, the Department estimates that the approximately 118,000 pensioners it can trace could receive payments averaging around £8,900 by the time the payments are made. So far, the Department has found underpayments of between £0.01 and £128,448.37.”
The report goes on:” The Department has not given people who are worried they have been underpaid enough information to find out what they should do, with the risk that many may still miss out on money they should receive.
” The Department’s communications strategy is to only contact those who it finds have been underpaid under the State Pension regulations. Other groups of pensioners can receive arrears if they make a claim for additional entitlements to the Department, but the Department has provided very little information on which pensioners should do so.”
The report also points out that by repaying the money as a lump sum people means it could affect other benefits – such as entitlement to pension credit and social care payments. The DWP ignores doing anything about this.
Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “In reality DWP can never make up what people have actually lost, over decades, and in many cases it’s not even trying.
Both the latest reports are damning for the Department and show up the disdain the ministry has for elderly people. The Public Accounts Committee report is the most damning as it suggests that the ministry is breaking Treasury guidelines on managing public money correctly by not taking comprehensive action to restore the rights of people – nearly all women – to get cash they are entitled to receive.
Please donate to my blog to help me continue my forensicinvestigations.
Last night I did a live stream video for CEDAWinLAW explaining why I am supporting their campaign for a new Women’s Rights Bill to implement properly the UN Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women which Margaret Thatcher ratified in 1986.
Despite this happening 36 years ago it has still not been properly implemented by the government causing widespread hardship, discrimination and lack of opportunity for millions of women. Recently the UN committee supervising the implementation of the convention has taken the current government to task for its failings though you would not know this from coverage in the mass media.
This to my mind illustrates how marginalised women – particularly elderly and middle aged women – are treated by society.
The good news is that it looks like the Scottish government under Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party leader, is planning to introduce a new bill of rights for women. She may run into a dispute with the Westminster government which does not want devolved administrations implementing UN conventions until the UK government introduced legislation. At the moment there is no sign of the UK government doing this which is why we need a strong and powerful campaign to get it done.
Please donate to my blog to help me continue my forensic investigationsinto issues of the day.
Here is the Salford City Radio programme broadcast last night. I talked about the importance of tackling all discrimination against women and girls in the CEDAW People’s Tribunal. I explained how the issue had evolved from the Back To 60 judicial review over discrimination against women who lost their pensions into a three day hearing later this month with the backing of top lawyers from Garden Court Chambers.
Joanne Welch talked about the latest developments in the Back To 60 campaign which is a burning injustice issue for millions of women born in the 1950s and waited six years to get their pension.
It’s official. The Department for Work and Pensions has finally admitted after more than 25 years that they never thought of doing any impact studies on the effect of their decisions to raise the pension age from 60 to 66 for 3.8 million women.
A Freedom of Information request from a 1950s born woman seeking details of impact studies on the group of women most affected has forced the ministry to admit that there are none.
The letter says: “The Act does not oblige a public authority to create new information to answer questions; nor does it require a public authority to give advice, opinion or explanation, generate answers to questions, or create or obtain information it does not hold. “If you ask a question, rather than requesting recorded information, we will provide you with the recorded information that best answers the question. Once we have provided the recorded information, we have met our obligations under the Act; interpreting the information provided is up to you. “Your request makes statements and seeks to engage us in debate which you want us to respond to. This would need new information to be created.”
No information held
It goes on : “We do not hold any recorded information of an impact assessment of the effects on women of the State Pension Age that informed the rises of 1995. However, you may find the following explanation useful. We have provided this outside our obligations under the FOI Act”.
The Department has released the White Paper that preceded the 1995 Pension Act and the impact statement the coalition government produced before implementing the 2011 Act which speeded up the rise. And guess what the ministry are right there is nothing about the impact on women before the government legislated for the change.
There is one concession – the idea of extending the auto credit of national insurance contributions to women. Men over 60 had this concession since 1983. Women would have had it once they started to raise their pension age from 60 in 2010 but of course this was never implemented and men continued to have it until 2018 when the pension age was equalised. Instead there is much concern repeated in the 2011 impact study of the effects of the change on business and occupational pensions. The 2011 impact study is more comprehensive but also concentrates on the savings the government will make.
So no wonder Sir James Eadie QC when acting for the DWP in last year’s Court of Appeal case brought by BackTo60 to seek restitution for the 3.8 million affected made it clear that pensions were not a social measure aimed to reduce poverty or inequality. The ministry never had the issue on their radar when they introduced the change in 1995. These women were not even thought important enough to require an study on how it would affect their lives.
Happy New Year. Since this blog was launched at the very end of 2009 it has had over 2.8 million hits and over 2 million visitors – a remarkable achievement – even if I say it myself – for a single handed effort.
The number of blogs on my site also topped over 1000 – 1072 – to be exact. Last year my blog got 511,721 hits – that is fewer than the 1,041,000 the previous year – but still the second highest figure since it started.
I am extremely grateful that so many people are interested enough to read my news and views on current issues and also to the women following the BackTo60 campaign who have had a dispiriting year after losing their Court of Appeal case for compensation for raising their state pension age from 60 to 66. They are also having to wait for a very long time to find out whether the Supreme Court will hear their cases – far too long in my opinion. If it goes to the Supreme Court I shall be reporting it.
Like last year the majority of most read stories were about that campaign. The most read story of all last year was the revelation – from a reader using a Freedom of Information request – that 4.6 million men over 60 had their national insurance contributions paid by the state if they did not register for the dole to keep the unemployment figures down. This had over 64,000 hits and when the Department for Work and Pensions revised this figure to a staggering 9.8 million that had another 34,600 hits – bringing interest in both stories to nearly 100,000.
Coverage of BackTo60’s Court of Appeal hearing was the second highest at 58,860 – which is a pretty high figure for a court case.
Also an old story on how the government has saved paying out £271 billion to the National Insurance Fund which could have paid for higher pensions and also stopped the need to raise the pension age for women had another 22,000 hits. Originally written in the summer of 2018 this enduring blog has now had 311,000 hits altogether.
Outside other highly read blogs on the pensions campaign the most read blog was one on how Boris Johnson and other Cabinet Ministers were moving towards an elective dictatorship by devolving power to themselves rather than Parliament under new Brexit laws. That had 35,554 hits.
This year there has been a subtle change in coverage on my blog of stories I write for Byline Times. Last year I tended to provide a short summary of the story on my blog. This year most of my Byline Times stories appear by themselves and are not automatically repeated on my blog. They get even wider coverage on Byline Times so those who want to see them and follow me on Twitter do get tweets telling them about the story. Or you could take out a subscription to Byline Times and get a monthly print newspaper.
Ending discrimination against women
There will be new developments next year. I will be blogging about the People’s Tribunal run by John Cooper, QC, the human rights lawyer, to end all forms of discrimination against women. This is a movement which wants to get the UK Parliament to put into domestic law the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. The UK ratified it under Margaret Thatcher but nothing has been done since.
It comes as Elizabeth Truss, the equalities minister, appears to want to reverse progress what she calls “identity politics” so I foresee fresh battles over this issue. And I am curious to see how the Equality and Human Rights Commission is going to handle this.
I shall also be taking up some individual cases of injustice. The recent blog on the plight of Epsom and St Helier University Health Trust’s only woman cardiologist just one example – where a health trust is pursuing an individual and where they are whistleblowing issues.
I shall continue to keep an eye on political issues -particularly as incompetence, the chumocracy and corruption are on the rise in the UK and plan to write about it on Byline Times and this blog.
I have started again reporting on child sexual abuse again and plan more articles.
2021 promises to be a challenging year – the first post Brexit year- and I feel more than ready to meet it.
While the headlines concentrate on soaring youth unemployment the biggest rise in jobless totals are among the over 50s.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics analysed by the group, Rest Less, a jobs and community site for the over 50s. reveal unemployment has soared among this group by a staggering 33% year on year – the biggest percentage increase of all age groups and significantly more than the national average increase of 24%.The figures below tell the story.
Other figures shows that those furloughed over 50 who will later lose their jobs will be 80 per cent women. See this research here. And for the group I have championed through BackTo60 – the women born in the 1950s – who are now waiting up to six years to get their pension – the prospect of getting a job even if they wanted one will be worse.
But this is not just a tale about statistics. It is about human beings whose lives are being made more of a misery during this nasty Covid- 19 period.
One of those is Amanda Speedie, a resourceful and articulate 61 year old, who lives in Cornwall over the border from Plymouth. She was one of the women who did not find out until 2011 that she couldn’t retire at 60. She has since been dismayed by the failure of the judges decision on the BackTo60 court case. She had also tried using a local WASPI template to see if she could claim from the Ombudsman but that got nowhere.
She told me: ” When the decision was made it passed me by I was too busy bringing up a family, didn’t read newspapers ands rarely looked at TV news. If they had written to me I would at least have known”.
She is now divorced but well qualified-having worked in a variety of roles from estate agency to medical secretary to customer service and admin roles. She worked at one stage as a shift supervisor of the River Tamar toll plaza.
No full time job since 2012
She hasn’t had a full time job since 2012. She survives on two small private pensions – worth £40 a week – and by taking on some gardening work for which she earns £45 a week. She occasionally takes on sewing repair and alterations which might bring her in an extra £10 or £20 a week. She doesn’t qualify for any of the government payments.
Her real passion is to become a writer .Amanda studied for a BA in English with Media Studies and graduated with the MA in Professional Writing in 2007.
She has however some very strong views about what women in their 60s should do and that does not include work.
” Many women are single, they can’t get jobs and even if they can haven’t the energy to do full time work ( I did a full time job for five weeks and came home exhausted every night and had to give it up) They suffer health issues and lose their energy after the menopause. Older people also face discrimination from employers who are not keen to employ them.”
She has written twice to Rushi Sunak, the Chancellor, suggesting that he introduced an allowance equal to the pension for women in their 60s. She has had no reply.
” Women could then do things they might want to do like volunteering or looking after their grandchildren or take a part time job if they wanted.”
What is alarming is that generation born in 1960s are hitting the same problems. Rest Less had another case of a women in her 50s.
Claire Cassell is 54 from Willenhall near Birmingham. She lives with her husband. For nearly three years, Claire was working as a receptionist for a legal firm.
She was furloughed at the beginning of lockdown and didn’t hear anything from her employer until May when she was notified that they were hoping to get back to work soon.
By July she hadn’t heard anything more and texted her boss to find out if they were going back to work. He simply replied ‘No’.
At the end of August, she received an email telling her her role was at risk of redundancy. She was made redundant on 1 September. She is entitled to Job Seeker’s Allowance until March but as her husband works, she cannot claim Universal Credit. Since then, Claire has applied for 200 jobs and has had two disastrous Zoom interviews. She says she has a lot to give an employer and has 12 years of work still in front of her.
What this suggests is life is going to get much harder for the middle aged – who might have to face a decade or more of impoverished lives – before they get their pension. The government’s solution is to raise the age before you can get a state pension to 67 and then 68, and some pressure groups like Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Policy Studies would like it to be 75 asap – knowing he as an ex minister and his wife will retire on a huge state pension provided by Parliament and Whitehall.