I LOVE Shona Craven’s articles and mostly wholly agree with them. But I take some issue with her article on the WASPI women (Claims of pension ‘theft’ were always misleading, Mar 26). The government did in fact “steal” our pensions, in my case about £50k’s worth, somewhat rubbishing the ombudsman’s announcement that the DWP failings did not result in “direct financial loss”. Of course they did.

We did not sit down and sign a contract, but that is what we had in fact. You paid National Insurance contributions for 35 years = you got a full state pension (which is still at best half that of our main European competitors and often less than that). Then the goalposts were moved. In my case I have paid 41++ years’ contributions and have been deprived of six years’ pension (the equivalent number of years EXTRA that I paid). I and many others received no notice of this over the years.

READ MORE: WASPI women trusted the UK Government to honour our pension contract

In any case, the question of notice is rather missing the point. Even with adequate notice, women are often in more poorly paid jobs and would no way have been able to make up the shortfall themselves no matter how much notice we got. One of the reasons it was fair for women to have pensions earlier was that women often have to do a double or triple shift in their lives: working, looking after a husband and house, and taking care of the children.

It’s as if many have three jobs, only one of which is paid, and due to having other responsibilities, also having fewer opportunities for advancement at their paid job. So it was a bit of state recognition of that triple whammy.

It was a contract. You paid 35 years, you got a pension from 60. If it wasn’t a contract, how could it have qualifying conditions which led to obligations for the other party?

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn challenges Labour and Tories on WASPI women – read the full letter

We have a government which indulges its supporters in billions-worth of PPE contracts, tax breaks for multi-nationals, paying 90% of the research and development costs of oil multinationals, and slewing the economy to give tax breaks to the richest. Yet somehow they have no money for benefits or for the elderly. Of course they do.

One of the most disappointing and insidious results of the relentless government narrative since the 1980s is that young people will not get a state pension at all, and that we are stacking up a huge national debt which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. Utter rot! The government is not paying off any of its “debt”, in fact it is full steam ahead increasing it.

READ MORE: DWP minister refuses to commit to compensation for WASPI women

Governments never do their sums on whether they can afford wars, or useless contracts with their “friends” or tax breaks for rich corporations. Apart from anything else, any government which is a currency-issuer can afford anything (with constraints on inflation, etc). Welfare cuts, pension cuts, shrinking public services and the NHS are all political choices, not economic ones.

And it will only get worse. Jeremy Hunt’s intention is to cut out National Insurance entirely, in the guise of “helping working people keep more of their own money”. If he does this, because of the side-narrative that the government has no money of its own (it’s the only one which does) a future chancellor will have just the excuse to eliminate state pensions and benefits altogether, and he will probably blame the poor for pocketing their National Insurance contributions while they were working.

Julia Pannell
Friockheim, Tayside

SHONA Craven’s article on WASPI pension theft, being misleading, is a very one-sided take from a younger woman on the reality of pensions for women.

WASPI women were living at a time of no social media and no personal computers, we relied on our government being honest and moral in their responsibilities to the electorate. Most TV, radio and newspapers are now under the control of the right-wing media, the mouthpiece of the current right-wing government, and spin to a naive audience that do not look at the future nor the bigger picture.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf pans Labour over Waspi women compensation U-turn

Women also lived under an authoritarian male-dominated system where men were the arbiters of their good fortune and pay was considerably less because a man would take care of your future needs. Women’s pay, if they worked at all, was considered pin money to add a wee bit extra to the family coffers to improve their children’s life, something these children are failing to recognise when they deny their mothers their pensions having gained from their mother’s hard-earned labour.

Women have found as society has changed that their mothers’ lives could not be replicated in the future and are historical fiction. Their rhetoric plays into a male authoritarian stereotype, denying women their rights and diminishing their own.

Denying the right of WASPI women to be compensated, particularly from a young woman, is complicit in denying the right of future generations to a pension – stand by that right not just for WASPI, but for your own future pension.

READ MORE: Unionist campaign chief says WASPI women were 'too feckless'

The reasons the current Tory government wish to be rid of National Insurance, introduced to pay for our NHS and pensions to ensure that all citizens of the UK had access to a healthy life unencumbered by extreme poverty, is that once this is incorporated into general taxation the next step will be the introduction of private pensions and private medical care at a much greater cost to young people than their current contributions to their future welfare.

Failure to support pension commitments for women is a self-inflicted injury for your own future retirement when the reality of your lack of commitment to others comes back to haunt you as you then find yourself living a life less well lived.

Christine Smith