22 APRIL 2015

When the Coalition Government reneged on its word and changed the State Pension Age at short notice, it gave little thought to the impact it would have on women approaching retirement age. The consequence is that one group of women are being discriminated against simply by virtue of their date of birth.

Half a million women, born on or after 6 April 1951 are affected, particularly as many spent many years in mothering and caring roles rather than in paid employment.

Moving the pension age back affects men and women of course but accelerating the changes means that many women were only given 18 months notice of the changes. Recommendations made by the Turner report, the Pensions Commission and independent financial experts and organisations such as Age UK and SAGA advise that people should have 10-15 years notice.

MPs and judges were given 10 years’ transitional protection during their occupational pension reforms because ‘This protection strives to be fair to members who are close to their expected retirement age and are less able to change their plans than younger members.’ Not only is this hypocrisy, it is also discrimination and discrimination is illegal. Surely the same rationale must be applied to the State Pension Age?

The women worst affected by the accelerated rise worked at a time when equality was in its infancy. Many sacrificed their own careers, and consequently occupational pensions, to raise their families. Others were barred from joining pension schemes.

Today mothers returning to work get varying degrees of financial and practical help with childcare but at the beginning of the ‘70s less than a quarter of mothers worked, if at all, returning to work only when their children were independent.

There was little private nursery provision, no workplace nurseries (unlike the House of Commons’ workers enjoy), no child or working tax credits, no help with childcare costs, statutory maternity provision or parental leave (currently 13 weeks for each child) and no right to request flexible working.

So these women are much more reliant on the state pension than women will be in the future.

Let the next Government show honour and respect for older women in society who have contributed so much for so long and to give them back the pensions they deserve.

I handed a petition in on the 23 March before the dissolution of Parliament. It is still open and at the time of writing (22 April) had 57,328 signatures. The comments left by those who have had their retirement dreams shattered, highlight the devastation, despair and distress the accelerated, discriminatory rise to the Pension Age has caused.

There’s still an opportunity to raise the issue with Election candidates or simply add your name to the petition to call for a rethink.

France and Germany have reversed the State pension law – we can do it too.

Anne Keen, Activist ABOUT AUTHOR

Anne Keen is a retired but energetic activist who embraces life to the full and is still waiting to receive her State Pension.