From the TUC

The State Pension muddle and 1950s women

05 Jan 2016, by in Pensions & Investment

On Thursday, Mhairi Black, the youngest MP in Parliament, will do her bit for intergenerational solidarity by opening a House of Commons debate on State Pension age changes.

A long-simmering row over the impact on women born in the 1950s of a combination of State Pension Age equalisation with men, and increased State Pension Age for both genders, has reached the boil. This is thanks in large part to indefatigable campaigning by the impressively acronymed WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) and its influential media allies. The group’s petition to Parliament calling for “fair transitional arrangements” for women born from April 1951 onwards, has garnered 103,000 signatures.

The problems are caused by the cumulative impact of the 1995 decision to equalise State Pension Ages for men and women and subsequent changes in 2007 and, particularly 2011. The TUC has been vocal in highlighting the problems caused for many women. A number faced sharp increases to their State Pension age with  little time to plan for big changes to their life paths even after subsequent concessions that capped the increase in State Pension age.

Many women affected have also complained that they were not directly notified of the changes to their expected State Pension Age, raising yet again the great flaws in government record keeping. This left them unable to take remedial action. Some took early retirement or redundancy on the assumption that their State Pension would kick in at 60.

But now it has been created, this is not an easy situation to unravel, as Frances Coppola has set out in detail. If compensation is due then who is it due to? After all, changes in State Pension Age affected more than just those women born in the 1950s. And the reliance many how have on working age benefits to see them through to State Pension age is common to many men. Yet many face great hardship due to what they see as opaque and arbitrary decision making, particularly relating to the 2011 changes, and have strong cases for assistance.

Taking a longer term perspective, it is fitting that Mhairi Black, herself many decades from retirement, should be leading this debate. While the position of women born in the 1950s will be the immediate focus, it is time to bring robust and transparent evidence gathering to policy making on the state pension.

There are complex issues involved. Both overall life expectancy and healthy life expectancy vary dramatically with many people simply unable to stay in the workforce into their 60s, even if they wished to do so. Increases to State Pension age risk exacerbating prevailing inequalities. The attitude of employers to older workers can vary too. There are issues too about the way working age benefits work, with many older workers forced to rely on these until State Pension age. The decision to link public sector normal pension age to State Pension age is another complicating factor.

The opportunity to take a better approach will come with the review of State Pension age due by 2017. There have been recent hints by the Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann that the very long awaited appointment of a chair to lead the review is imminent. If there are to be any further increases in state pension age, the TUC believes they must be decided by an independent commission, reporting directly to parliament and including trade union and employer representation. The commission must have the ability to gather evidence on life expectancy inequalities as well as average life expectancy, and the actual capacity of people to stay in work for longer rather than become dependent on working age benefits.

34 Responses to The State Pension muddle and 1950s women

  1. yvonne R
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:09 pm

    I am 58 andwas aware of the changes in 1995 but i couldnt do anything about buying my missing stamps (£11000 for a lunchtime supervisor 1 hour a day?) I was unable to do more hours because of health issues and lack of work experience after years of back injury..my husband worked 45 years but we were putting a son through Uni then. I knew but there was nothing i could do to help myself so knowing was not the main issue. More than anything i want my bus pass at 60..i have numerous medical issues and i dont drive and my husband is a good bit older and less confident driving long journeys now. The bus pass has been linked to state pension age in most areas and if they dont return pension age to 60 for all i would, at least, like bus passes for all people at 60. It is wrong for the concessionary passes to be given at 60 in some areas and not others.

  2. jean billsdon
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:27 pm

    I am 60 born 1955 so no sp untill i am 66 ! that is far too long it does not make sense that someone years younger gets it the same time as me, and not even a bus pass

  3. Lorraine Paterson
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:32 pm

    I am in a very physical job which at 57 I am struggling to do. How do I do this job to 66? When I started work at 16 thought I would retire at 60, then it was changed to 62 which was bad enough now 66. No private pension, no savings on my own, brought up 2 teenagers on my own. Feel so fed up and let down. What is my future?

  4. jackie williams
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:33 pm

    iwas not aware of the spa increase until 2years after i took early retirement then it was too late to do anything about it i did my financial planning believing that i was getting my state pension at 60 but instead im having to wait until im 2 months off my 66th birthday all my retirement dreams in shatters had to sell my retirement home in spain at a very big loss just to live went back to work at 59 but could not physically do the job i was trained for and still have to wait another 4years until spa

  5. karen Gilbert
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:39 pm

    I am 58 and will have to work until I am 66.The thing is I have a physical job and I don’t think I will be able to do it properly. Plus I worry what will happen if I am ill as now I am older I get painful joints and all manner of age related things from time to time .the menopause isn’t a picnic either I’ve not had a decent nights sleep in years.

  6. marion lee
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:39 pm

    I am 61 worked from the age of 15, in my misd 50s took time out to care for my mum,it didn’t occur to me that I would not get back into the work place as I have worked all my life it wasint till I was 58 that I would not be retireing when I was 60,and that as through a friend,18 months was ,added then changed again to 6 years, I cant retire now til 2020 I have a part time job now in which is physical demanding,but as I am alone it is not enough hours ,I apply for work constantly with out any sucsess,I have 44 years ni contributions 18 month s wasint so bad but 6 years I find is totally unfair,

  7. Isobel harris
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:41 pm

    I too am one of the wronged women, I was born in 1954 and now have to work until I am 66, I have been working since I was 15 years old , I gave brought up a family and now I have been diagnosed with a lifelong disability but have been found to be unsuitable for any kind of help due to the fact I can still walk , although I am often in pain. I cannot afford to give up work without some income. Why is this fair after working for 46 years , and not been given sufficient notice to even try to make provision for myself. It’s disgraceful !

  8. Maria Defriez
    Jan 5th 2016, 2:59 pm

    I am 60( 61 in a month) & I was never informed that the pension age was being raised.
    As someone who is currently unemployed & being forced by the government to attend the jobcentre once a fortnight( which entails me paying out bus fares) & also to attend the work program (which is not much good for people my age) I feel that we are being badly mistreated by the Government as I have worked for most of my life & feel that we should now be able to relax a little. Attending the jobcentre & work program is demeaning for women of my age who have spent their lives bring up families & who are now basically been treated like children.

  9. Simon Walshe
    Jan 5th 2016, 3:00 pm

    I have and will continue to support #WASPI women at the lower end of the economic scale. These are the people who have had the highest rate of ignorance about the planned changes and are also the group most likely to be employed on manual jobs that become more difficult as you get older, this includes caring.

    I understand that this marginalises the more affluent 1950s females but then they are better informed, more financially independent and less reliant upon the State Pension. OK people can argue that they have paid their NI just like anyone else but then so can men who on average live 3Yrs less. The Government has recommended that people are in receipt of a State Pension for ‘up to’ a third of their adult lives (around 62 currently) and if this were the case there is the potential to vacate many positions for the young and reduce the financial burden caused by JSA.

    WASPI understandably use examples of women who are suffering real financial hardship to promote their campaign and I in my opinion it is only right and proper to give this group priority as a matter of some urgency. Perhaps an interim scheme could enhance the income of all 1950s women who have not had 10Yrs notice of the changes to £155 allowing a more gradual/less cliff edge implementation.

    This is a complex issue which requires careful consideration and which impacts on people of both sexes and of all age groups.

  10. Pat Morgan
    Jan 5th 2016, 3:18 pm

    I was born April 1955 and have had my original expected SP date extended twice so now I will have to wait an additional 6 years. I have paid in 41 years of contributions and worked full time until the summer when health issues prevented me from doing my job which included huge amounts of travelling. I studied in adulthood whilst working and raising a family and gained an MSc in Business Management so that I could achieve better financial security. This was all properly planned around a retirement age of 60. 2 hikes and the acceleration scuppered all my careful planning and hard work and I wonder how I can manage for another 6 years without the pension I counted on. When I started work at 16 I never thought this could happen having seen older generations retire and get their pensions when expected. I feel like I’ve been robbed of what is rightfully mine. Don’t forget we also lose out not getting bus passes, concessionary rates and reciprocal EU medical treatments. Gutted and let down doesn’t go anywhere near describing how I feel I’ve been treated by my own country.

  11. Liz Kitchen
    Jan 5th 2016, 4:23 pm

    I also am a women born in 1954
    62 yrs next month ,
    I have also worked since the age of 15 , took time out to have my children , then back to work, cared for parents until sadly they passed away , I now am in ill health and unable to work, but not entitled to any benefits
    But unable to get employment because of ill health, so what am I suppose to do , I worked hard for my pension , just like everyone else on here, so very unfair, give us our pension now

  12. Janice
    Jan 5th 2016, 5:07 pm

    I found out that I would not get my pension, 2 months before my 60th birthday. I found out via ‘facebook’! I suffer ill-health and was looking forward to retiring. You can imagine my shock when I did find out. I will probably be dead before I get MY pension.

  13. NCA Hickey
    Jan 5th 2016, 5:09 pm

    I am female born in April 1954. I have worked since August 1969 when my NI record began. I have over 40yrs NI contributions. My SPA has gone up twice and I had nothing from the DWP until the end of 2012. Just 15 months from my 60th birthday. Steve Webb, the previous Pensions Minister now says he was ill briefed by Civil Servants and he therefore did not fully inform MPs in 2011 of the disastrous impact there would be for women born in 1950s. I hope this will be properly debated again in the Commons in the light of this new information. The previous Labour and Coalition Governments did not give us women 10 years notice and we have not had time to make alternative financial plans. I’m nearly 62 and truly believe that British Law must and will treat us better than this.

  14. Wendy o sullivan
    Jan 5th 2016, 5:21 pm

    Iam also a female born in 1954 ie 62 next month I have been told that at the moment I have 22 qualifying years and have to ring in April or November to see if I’ve got anymore I gave up work in 1975 to have my eldest daughter and was told that my child benefit was added to my years I have been working part time for about 4 years but want to give it up due to ill health I’m worried I might have to pay them back in order to get a basic pension I’m due to retire on 06/05/2019 and it can’t come soon enough I’d retire tomorrow if I. Could my ex husband took early retirement last year and he’s only just turned 60

  15. joyce thorne
    Jan 5th 2016, 5:46 pm

    I am a 62 year old woman having 4 children but took early retirement last year due to ill health I can’t get any benefits my husband is 65 in November and is retiring with ill health we will have to sell our house next year because we cannot afford the mortgage it’s just rediculous.

  16. Edith Psyl
    Jan 5th 2016, 6:04 pm

    I was born Sept 53 and while I agree pension age for both men and women need to change the way the government treated those born 1953/54 was totally unfair. We were given insufficient notice of the change in contrast to MP’s, judges and civil servants who were given transitional protection in respect of their workplace pension. 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” – see House of Commons Library Standard Note 6283. There is also a white paper – Reviewing the State Pension Age which states it will seek to give individual affected by changes to their SPA at least 10 years notice. No 10 years notice for us. The timetable for the changes was brutal – someone born May 53 will receive their pension Nov 16 but someone born Sept 53 will have to wait until March 18!

  17. Dot Holden
    Jan 5th 2016, 6:15 pm

    I was born August 1955 and will have to wait another 6 years to get my State Pension. I too have ample credits in order to qualify. I didn’t get any sort of notification from the DWP (where is the proof that this was actually sent out?) Like others have mentioned I can’t have a bus pass or free prescriptions either as both are linked to the State Pension age. My health is not as good as it was in my 50’s and it really annoys me to see Government ministers who ‘earn’ huge amounts of money and get a very good pension at the end of the day tell me I must carry on working! Most women in our age group did not have money spare to put into a private pension – if this was such an issue then why didn’t the Government force employers to run Stakeholder Pensions in the 1990’s like they have recently???

  18. Maureen
    Jan 5th 2016, 8:56 pm

    I too am 60 and will have to wait for my sp until 66, I have also found out that now that I am a widow of 11 years this government will not now take my late husbands contributions into account so they have taken his money too, I am so angry we women have been treated shoddily and I have worked from the age of 15, I have no hope.

  19. Carolyn Casey
    Jan 5th 2016, 10:55 pm

    I was born July 53, I was informed about pension changes about 18 months before I reached 60 saying it would now be 61, I was working full time then and accepted that womens pensions should be brought in to line with men, then just before my 61st birthday was told that it would now be 64, I was never given 10 years notice!!! I was also made redundant from a job I loved Christmas 2014, I did manage to find another job but due to how stressful it was it has badly affected my health and now can’t work, I get no benefits at all. I have with chronic sciatica for years, but now think I would have been better off claiming benefits and not working and paying in to a system that I feel has let me and other women down. A friend of mine who is the same age and never worked is far better off than me, it doesn’t seem fair.

  20. Graham Riches
    Jan 6th 2016, 2:50 am

    Many thanks to those who have taken the time to make the points detailed above.
    I, plus my wife aged currently 50 years, am fortunate to, unusually at currently 66 years old, have our only children aged 10 and 13 years in respect of the package of child related state benefits introduced by the time of birth of our first son. However, after starting drawing my personal pension benefits from age 50 years, based on maximum contributions’ levels into a company pension scheme when an employee before being self-employed from 42 years old until aged 60 years, if widowed my wife would have to rely upon largely the child related benefits assuming our younger son stays at school until almost 19 years of age to take her within 8 years of her state “OAP” status despite my National Insurance record since starting work at 18 years of age, as the system dictates at present seemingly.
    Our employment opportunities are “complicated” by “blacklisting” dating back to probably 1978 in the financial services industry in England and, since residing in Mid Wales from December 2001 as a “mixed” ethnic background family (although my BSc status wife also British from 2005), we find ourselves assessed by independent researchers as in the top 25 per cent of the population in Wales for being attacked and, according to further research, 16 times more likely to be harassed than ANY single race background family before such factor increases from 16 for rural location of our home since 2002. Some of the numerous attacks have been hate related criminal damage with intent to endanger human life, although the first such attack occurred in Exeter when I had been married to my first wife also employed by a large financial services company after achieving, by examinations, her Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute status, according to an Exeter based police sergeant such attack on our car being part of a “professional vendetta”, immediately drawn to the attention of both our employers. However still my large Bank/insurance broker group employer refused to allow my correctly accepted promotion to a Guildford based job, after several years spent on my part commuting from Exmouth to Bristol in a job where a performance related merit rise (earned in 1981) had been (despite correctly “challenged” as being wrongfully withheld by my employer’s Administration Manager in correspondence with “Pay Office” colleagues) never reflected in my salary up to date of my “redundancy” in 1991.
    Only yesterday my son aged just 10 years had found himself explaining to his “class”, during a discussion about “internet security”, that I had just had to delete a Facebook “Add Friend” request from unknown “gun pointing” male/”white” appearance person (unusually without any “shared” contacts background) and I do not even appear in the family picture used alongside my name. My elder son has even been attacked at three local schools and received “hate Christmas cards” at two such Primary schools (firstly when just recently five years of age) and even a local GP then “sent” (with Children’s Services’ “Shire Manager” knowledge seemingly) with “threat” that both boys could be “taken away” if I wrote any more letters to his school about my son’s perceptions of “bullying”, including after being attacked on the provided by Powys County Council “school” mini bus, before I plus my son had been confronted (at the pick-up point near our home) by the attacker’s father. So, if I with all the advantages I had enjoyed such as right to free university education (with grant) find myself and my wife “unemployable” as “blacklisted”, what hope is there really for my sons finding suitable employments in increasingly the era of “networking” and “It is not what you know but who you know” some people have been known to say even several decades ago in financial services? Even “we” were not totally able to fund adequately for “retirement” in an age of expected (for some) increased longevity! Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (by 1979 after passing examinations/studying since 1968)

  21. sue sutherland
    Jan 6th 2016, 11:15 am

    I was born jan 1955 and only found out about getting my SP in Jan 2021 when I req my ni contributions (40+ years!)etc ,when taking ill health retirement from the NHS just 2 years ago!No letters recd about the extra years i would have to wait /work if i was fit enough.I will be lucky to see any of my hard earned SP ,as i was also told in April 2015 that i have Motor Neurone Disease(ALS) ,no treatment and no cure -I just hope the WASPI campaign helps bring everyone of us affected by this deception JUSTICE sooner rather than later!!

  22. Jill Jervis
    Jan 6th 2016, 3:40 pm

    I am 59, born in August 1956 and now having no SP until I’m 66. Although I haven’t been able to work due to ill health for the last 10 years and have been on benefits, I was looking forward to receiving my SP this year, but then put back another 2years then extended to 66 years of age. Receiving SP meant I would be clear of the brutal benefits regime. I have ME and have been diagnosed with a lung problem due to this, as well as having to put up with the pain and physical problems. Now I will have to keep fighting another 6 years to keep my benefits…. if I live that long now. I’m getting very tired!

  23. May
    Jan 6th 2016, 8:29 pm

    I am also one of the women born in the mid fifties who have had their state pension age raised twice. I left school at fifteen and have always been in full time employment. I have already paid over 45 years contributions which would have entitled past generations to their full state pension. Working another six extra years will bring my years of paying into the state pension to 51. Sorry I feel I would have been better off not complying by working and paying into a scheme that does not recognize my efforts. Statistics might show that we are living longer but let’s be realistic we are not mentally or physically as fit. Let us retire gracefully and give our positions to a younger fitter work force.

  24. jsanders
    Jan 6th 2016, 9:59 pm

    I am 59 years of age, Got a physical job which having to work till 66 i am dreading, My health is not good as i have been diagnosed with a heart problem .How are we expected to work longer.For gods sake give the jobs to the younger generation and let us retire and have a bit of a life before the end.

  25. Margaret wylie
    Jan 10th 2016, 8:20 am

    I’m 60 and need to work till 66. I started work at 15 been mother wife worker and carer to parents. At this stage I’m done. I always believed I would retire at 60 and have time for myself. I’ve been paying my N.I. and taxes all these years to keep this country afloat. I’d like to train some younger person up for my job so they can get out of the unemployment rut. Rethink this whole thing please and make it happen for the 60 plus people and for our unemployed who need these jobs now!

  26. H Currie
    Jan 10th 2016, 8:14 pm

    Took early retiral from work on the premise that OAP would be paid at age 62 (born Dec 1953.) Changes now mean that OAP will be paid at age 66. Huge negative on financial plans, with month of birth making the difference of 4 years!! Surely not fair?

  27. Vanessa Lewis
    Jan 11th 2016, 4:27 pm

    I am 60, and, as many have already said, started work at age 15 in 1971, and until just a few years ago, expected to be entitled to State Pension at the age of 60. Not many women are in a position to make the necessary adjustment to accommodate this change with such short notice. Indeed, it would take many working years to arrange to accommodate a change on this scale. What I would like to mention here is that although the Equal Pay Act became law in 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, I (and probably many other women) did not have the first attempt to address equal pay addressed until 1976, and only then because the company I worked for had recently had to recognise our trade union membership . It is not often acknowledged that many women born in the 50’s (and still not fully realised) did not receive equal pay for the first few working years, and have therefore been ‘short-changed’ at both ends of our working lives.

  28. Kath
    Jan 14th 2016, 1:14 am

    I was born October 1953 and worked as a teacher since 1974. I raised 3 children whilst working full time. At age 55 I had cancer and took early retirement, but was soon back to teaching once I had fully tecovered. My earnings in the UK are heavily taxed due to my teachers’ pension so I have worked abroad in order to pay the mortgage and help my children who are now young adults. I Have made full contributions to my pension with over 40 years of payments. My sp combined with my teaching pension would enable me to return to the UK and enjoy my grandchildren, however, as things stand I need to be working until 2018. I feel let down by my country.

  29. Valerie Jones
    Jan 21st 2016, 11:07 pm

    I was born in sept 53. I gave up work to care for my husband in 2003 although I never received any care allowance or benefits. (he paid for, but never received his pension,and I never earned enough to contribute to a second pension even though I worked full time).
    I have had three retirement dates and two pension forecasts, retiring sept 2013, march 2017 then march 2018, the last forecast informing me that some of my dead husbands national insurance contributions will be used to top up my 27 year contribution record, giving me a full pension. Today I learn that has been stolen from me. I am now short of 8 years contributions. I have chronic arthritis and am in constant pain, am diabetic and am now supposed to find the money to buy contributions that I was told I had no need to buy. What on earth am I supposed to do? Commit suicide? Along with all of the other women in the same position. I suppose thats one way to reduce the older population. I have voted conservative for most of my life, believing that we must go without so that the country as a whole could benefit. Well David Cameron, and all your cronies you have beaten me, I shake with fear at the prospect of my future without food and heat. I will not be voting for you again.

  30. Trish
    Feb 7th 2016, 9:56 am

    I was born 1954 and have seen my sp date rise 2 times I have never had a letter telling me this and learnt from news reports I work part time but have bad health issues and need to not work I can not understand how somebody who is born the same month as me but a year earlier can retire now but I will be nearly 66 also on a low income the bus pass and heating allowance would have really helped it is so unfair shame on the people who made these desisions

  31. Christine Edwards
    Feb 9th 2016, 9:08 pm

    born 1955 worked since age 15 to present time in heavy physical job.Brought up two children looked after grandchildren for own to continue working cared for both my and my husbands parents, now support my husband due to ill health of same age as me so no fiancial help there! SP age changed twice no garantee it won’t change again, finding my job extremely hard these days due to arthritis, joint pain plain tiredness.Have just received SP forecast saying not entitled to full amount of new universal pension even though payed in over 40yrs. whole system stinks, croniysm throughout MP’s judges those at the top made sure they were alright as usual country gone to the dogs come on government look after the young, sick and old plenty of money swishing around spend it equitably,fairly.

  32. Marguerite prosser
    Feb 12th 2016, 1:03 am

    I was born Nov 1954,my retirement age changed twice, I have worked since the age of 15 at times doing two jobs ,working full time and part time. I feel we have been shafted by this government. I am not asking for the wo ,just what I am rightfully entitled to , they back peddled on tax credits, now do the same for us fifties girls,

  33. Kay
    Feb 14th 2016, 6:46 pm

    I was born in 1958 and like others my retirement age is now 66 by which time I will have worked for 50 years; the prospect of another 8 years daily commuting and undertaking a demanding role is exhausting. I enjoy work, always have, but I want the option to retire at 60 feeling ready to have some time to choose what I want to do and not leave work exhausted.

    I feel as women we’ve contributed significantly to society, have planned carefully for retirement at 60 but are being penalised. It’s like changing the terms and conditions of a contract without consultation. Employment law wouldn’t allow this to happen so how can government override this contract?

    Like many of us have done, alongside working we’ve raised children, cared for elderly relatives (saving vast amounts of government resources), willingly volunteered at the children’s schools and within the community.

    We have worked to support our children financially through further and higher education (many decision makers received their university funding free of charge) and through our youngster’s apprenticeships as their pay was well below many low paid jobs.

    Like us and our parents before us, our children have worked to help support their studies and are fortunate to be in employment again paying NI, Tax and government back for university fees.

    We planned carefully for retirement (me at 60) but nothing prepared us for the dramatic change in my retirement date – 6 years! By raising the retirement age for woman we are also preventing younger people accessing employment. Let’s hope Mhairi Black is successful in her campaign.

  34. Donna Vivier
    Feb 23rd 2016, 11:12 am

    I was born in 1956, the govenment failed to inform me of the changes to my pension age, funny how they managed to add an extra year to the already 65 to make it 66 then send me this information on the changes they had made. I have since signed the WASPI petition and watched the debates in parliament, it really seems women have been shafted, with the double movement on age, failure to inform, raising the accumulative years needed, and blinding us with a new raised basic pension which will be impossible for the majority to reach. This does not just effect women born in the fifties it effects all of us, the govenment should be held responsible for its mis management and bad decisions, and most importantly for sending us into hardship and in lots of cases forcing women into poverty.