"63 is the new 60"
Forest of Dean
Some of your readers may know me as Mariana, the artist from St Briavels. But for the last five years I have also been running a campaign group called “63 is the new 60”.
The General Election could swing either way based on the 3.8 million women and their families who have been robbed of their state pension entitlement. For years all parties would not engage with us ladies but now they want our votes, the Labour Party have let the cat out of the bag, because they have justified their £58 billion compensation to rectify “this historic injustice”.
No 1950s born woman disagrees with equalisation of pension age with men. It’s the right thing to do. What is not right, is to put the whole six year jump onto just one decade of women who never experienced any form of equalisation in the workplace. We were not allowed to join work pension schemes in the early 1970s. If we wanted families, we had to give up work to look after children, even though many like me, worked part time when I could. Once my son was at secondary school I was able to go back to full time work. But 1950s women have been impacted by FOUR new pensions acts.
Firstly the 1995 Act to equalise pension in 2020. We did not receive any notification about this Act. The first and only letter I received about these changes came 17 years later in 2012. By this time I was just 14 months short of my expected retirement at 60. It had been 60 for women and 65 for men since the 1940s.
The Labour government in 2007 increased 65 to 66, then that great highway robber George Osbourne saw how this saved the government so much money “it dwarfed anything a government could do to save money”, that he brought the date forward.
For me, born in February 1954, my SP age was 60, then 62, then 63.11 months, then 65.5 months. How can anyone plan their financial arrangements and retirement with so many changes within a 10 year window?
Then, to crown it all, the 2014 Act, was passed. This came into effect in 2016 and changed the goalposts again for singles, widows, NI contributions etc. But also brought in the so called “Flat Rate Pension of £168.60pw”. This is how it was sold. In reality very few 1950s women will get this because of contracting out in their working life and those years of contributions are knocked off the flat rate giving many a much reduced state pension.
The whole debacle has been badly handled by governments of all colours and an inept DWP, which in 2002 was faltering between expensive computer upgrades, and has conveniently lost the letters they said they sent to us. I only received one in 2012. Many women did not know SPA had changed, and still more still don’t know. Although social media has helped to correct this a bit.
So, Boris Johnson says he cannot magic up the money for the waspi women, Back to Sixty have had a Judicial Review in the summer which was lost on 3 October this year on the basis that “the government was not obliged to inform us” of such a major life changing decision about our pensions. There are at least twenty other major groups campaigning but 63 is the new 60 is the only one which has remained party politically neutral and continues to do so. The Conservatives are in danger of losing this GE on the pensions issue they prefer to ignore, rather than the Brexit question.
63/60 proposal was written by me in 2015. It was costed by the Parliamentary Library in 2016 and it has been offered to all parties to settle this matter. By the time we get to 63, our bodies are wearing out. We cannot continue working in some jobs, for fifty years, once we get older and although the unemployment figures are at their lowest since 1974.....think on, if We women can’t retire because there’s no other money except JSA, then this makes the unemployment figures look good.
I’m not a Labour supporter, for other reasons, but last weekend Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement to rectify this matter even though he doesn’t know where the money is coming from, has at least put this issue on the table for the first time in nine years since the first campaign group got off the ground.
Back in 1993 when Ken Clarke first put this 1995 Act in process, they hoped we wouldn’t notice when it happened. Fortunately, 1950s women are a plucky hard working bunch of women and the government never imagined we would connect. For that we have to thank the invention of social media.
If you are unsure, get your state pension date checked. You never know, they may move it again. No notice, no pension, so no vote.
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