The fight of the wonderfully-titled Waspi group – Women Against State Pension Inequality – could, from some points of view, be an easy one to disregard.
The campaigners’ complaint is, in a nutshell, that the government has moved the goalposts over their retirement age. Where they thought they could stop work at 60, they will now have to end at 65 or 66.
Now, some may be inclined to scoff and point out that we are all living longer and healthier lives, and that we all need to contribute more to the country’s finances – and that plenty of sixty-somethings are more than capable of contributing to the country. (Indeed a 70-year-old has recently assumed the office of the President of the United States of America, but perhaps that is not the best example to use in this case...)
The naysayers may argue that the retirement age was only set at 65 because when it was first enacted hardly anyone was expected to live that long anyway, so it needs to adapt to a more technologically-advanced era. All are, in their own way, valid points.
But the issue with the Waspi’s protests isn’t with those principles – it’s a demand that the state should stick to its word when dealing with people’s lives.
Millions of people up and down the country have planned their life around their retirement age. And now, through no fault of their own, thousands of women in just Portsmouth – let alone the rest of the county and country – are being told that their planning was in vain, for no matter how responsible they were when organising their finances, they will not be given what they were promised.
The rules may have become law in 1995, but it’s clear there has been a gross failure to communicate the knock-on effects. Had there not been, you would not have seen the purple-clad march in London yesterday. So we sympathise with the Waspis, and hope they see success in their bid for transitional payments while the pensionable age rises. Because they have been let down by the government, and are getting a rough deal.