Solent Waspi group are calling for justice on state pension age

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  • Solent Waspi are part of a national organisation lobbying for women’s rights after changes to the state pension age
  • They will be joining thousands of women in a march in London next week
  • They want to see the government to make transitional payments for women affected
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We are fighting for the justice of millions of women.

That is the resounding call by people who are members of Solent Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi).

​The group, started in March 2016, is part of a national organisation to help women affected by changes in state pension age.

Around 128 people across the Solent area including Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton, Winchester and the New Forest, have been campaigning to lobby the government since it brought in changes to when women born in the 1950s will receive their state pension.

Carolyne Jacobs is the joint area co-ordinator for Solent Waspi.

She says the protests and campaigning is not just about equality but also treating women fairly after around 2.5m women were given short notice about changes to their pension.

Many women were not aware of the age increase from 1995 so when they were written to in 2011, they were shocked to hear they would not be receiving their pension.

Carolyne Jacobs

Around 10,000 of those women are in Portsmouth with 85,400 in the county.

Carolyne, from Horndean, says: ‘In 1995, the government made changes to the state pension ages for women born in the 1950s so a lot of them could no longer get a pension when they turned 60.

‘For women born between April 6, 1950 and April 5, 1955 the pension age would depend on when within that time period they were born. The age ranged from 60 years and one month, to 64 years and 11 months.

‘For women born after April 5, 1955 the pension age would be 65 – the same as men’s.

‘They said it would phase in between 2010 and 2020 but they did not contact people directly and tell them how it would affect them.

‘The government did write to benefit officers and put it in the media but did not send letters to women. Not everyone saw this so were not aware of changes.’

Carolyne adds the big problems started in 2011 when the government increased the state pension again, by one year to 66-years-old for women born after October 5, 1954 but before April 6, 1968.

‘This latest change was going to have the same implementation period as the 1995 act so women had less time to prepare for it,’ she says.

‘Many women were not aware of the age increase from 1995 so when they were written to in 2011, they were shocked to hear they would not be receiving their pension.

‘They had already made plans to retire and a lot of these were shattered.’

Carolyne says for the Waspi members, it is not the changes in age that has made them angry but the short notice.

‘We are not fighting for the fact that state pension age has been made equal between men and women – we accept that,’ she says.

‘It is about women who are affected having very little notice. For some of the worst affected, they could lose up to £46,000.’

In 2015, women decided it was time to make a stand and created the national Waspi group. Since then, the movement has grown and there are now 140 other branches across England.

Next week, they will be uniting to march in London.

The main aim of the group is to see the government set up transitional payments for women who have missed out on their pensions.

Carolyne says: ‘For many of the women, it has not only affected them but their husbands and their families.

‘People make plans for retirement years in advance and they were told 18 months before they would have to carry on working.

‘It means they cannot take care of grandchildren and for some, they will not be able to retire when their husbands do.’

Speaking previously to The News before a protest held last year, Solent Waspi member Beverly Hancock, from Portchester, said it would be hard for some women to carry on working until they are 66.

She has had to carry on working as a receptionist after retiring from her job in the NHS.

Beverly says: ‘I only found out about the change in legislation by checking on the internet.

‘I retired from the NHS at the age of 60 and I’d liked to continue to have worked in the NHS longer but because of my osteoporosis, I didn’t feel able to continue in the more physically-demanding role.’

Last month, Solent Waspi held a protest in Portsmouth Guildhall to get support from Portsmouth City Council on the government transitional payments.

With banners and placards, the group chanted their rights.

Shelagh Simmons, joint area co-ordinator of the group, said: ‘We are all women who have been affected by this government ruling.

‘We have been paying into our pension so should be paid it.’

A deputation was given during the full council meeting and along with 117 councils elsewhere in the country, Portsmouth backed the women.

For Solent Waspi, the next step is the march in London next Wednesday.

Around 3,000 women and supporters of the group are expected to walk towards parliament with many supported by their MPs.

For more information or to contact Solent Waspi email the group at solentwaspi@gmail.com.

For national information visit waspi.co.uk.