WOMEN born in the 1950s are holding a rally after First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood today to highlight the “social injustice” of changes in the pension age.
The demonstration by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) follows similar protests in London and at George Square in Glasgow, and the organisers hope to welcome women from across Scotland to Edinburgh.
It forms part of a wider “national day of local events” where groups from across the country have planned a range of measures to highlight their cause.
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At issue are UK Government plans to equalise the pension age to 65, the same as that for men. While the women agree with the equalisation, they are against the way it is being implemented – with little or no notice, faster than promised and leaving no time to make alternative income arrangements. WASPI said retirement plans had been shattered with “devastating consequences”.
The changes mean that some women – those born on or after April 6, 1951 – will retire at around 63 years old, while others will have to wait until they are over 65. This is despite a commission 11 years ago recommending that a period of 15 years’ notice be given for pension changes. WASPI wants to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements, something the group says translates “into a ‘bridging’ pension to cover the gap from age 60 until State Pension Age (SPA)”.
They add that this should not be means-tested and should include compensation for losses for those women who have already reached their SPA.
“We are keen to promote our cause and encourage as many women born in the 1950s (and their partners) who did not get their pensions when they expected and with insufficient notice to make alternative financial arrangements, to join us,” said WASPI Edinburgh.
“We have received a lot of support from many cross-party MSPs but we still need to draw attention to our situation in the hope that this will deliver an even stronger message to the Westminster Government.”
The group co-ordinator Andrea Gregory said: “This is not about gender equality, it is about the unfair implementation of the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts which have prevented women from making alternative financial plans.
“Almost 244,000 women in Scotland have been affected causing personal hardship and affecting local economies within Scotland.”
Ian Blackford, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP and SNP Pensions spokesman at Westminster, added: “I am delighted the WASPI campaign is coming to Holyrood to highlight the injustices many women are facing.
“The SNP published a report on the injustices last week and have called upon the government to slow down the increase in women’s pensionable age, to take an additional two-and-a-half years to phase in the increase in pensionable age, which is an affordable initiative that will help many of the affected women.
“Theresa May talks about fairness, she should do the right thing by introducing fairness for the WASPI women.
“I have repeatedly stated that we in the SNP fully support harmonisation of the pension age between men and women, however the pace of the increase in women’s pensionable age is simply unacceptable.
“Many women were not aware of the sharp increase in pensionable age and this is coming as a severe blow to many. The Government should do the right thing and slow the pace of increase in pensionable age.”