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John Moret: Why I’m backing campaign against unfair women’s state pension hike

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Much has been written over the last few weeks about the issues surrounding women’s state pensions ages and the activities of the campaigning group Waspi. There are some very strong views held on both sides of the debate with little middle ground.

After careful consideration I signed the Waspi petition. It wasn’t that I felt there was any case for opposing equalisation. In my view there is no rational argument against that objective. It also wasn’t because I believe the communication of these changes has fallen far short of what was needed.

At this point I should mention that my wife is one of the women affected, so I have seen just how poor the timing and quality of the communication has been.

The reason I signed it was I was aware there was a group of around a quarter of a million women who, if things stay as they are, will have been unfairly discriminated against.

They are the group of women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 January 1954 for whom the changes introduced in the 2011 Pensions Act were unjust.

As an example, it’s intended that a woman born on 5 April 1953 will reach SPA on 6 March 2016. A woman born on 6 April 1953 won’t reach SPA until 6 July 2016.

These four-month increases in SPA continue for each monthly cohort of women until you reach women born on 5 January 1954 whose SPA will be 6 March 2019. But a woman born on 6 January 1954 will revert to the two-month increase in SPA – her SPA will be 6 May 2019. That’s the case for all women born after 6 January 1954 until equalisation of SPA at age 66 is achieved for women born after 6 November 1954.

This methodology is blatantly unfair. I was at a dinner party recently where there were four women all from the same academic year. The oldest was born in October 1952, the youngest in July 1953.

The oldest received her state pension in March 2015 but the youngest won’t receive hers until July 2017. At the extreme for two women born at either end of the academic year on 1 September 1952 and 31 August 1953 there is a gap of two years ten months in their SPA.

Effectively the younger woman will have suffered a financial penalty of nearly two years pension, worth over £11,000.

I believe it’s this issue that Waspi should focus on. The injustice is clear and needs to be corrected. That can be achieved by reverting to two-month increases in SPA rather than four-month increases for the cohort of women born in the 9 months from 6 April 1953.

That would mean the rate of deferment of SPA for these women would be the same as those for the cohorts either side of them. At the moment these women on average are being penalised by about £5,000 each as a result of the extra delay in reaching SPA.

Such a change would have a knock-on effect on the SPA of all women born after 5 January 1954. That would mean equalisation at age 66 would not be achieved until 6 May 2022, a delay of 18 months compared with the current plans.

By acting now there is still time to correct the position as the first woman affected would achieve SPA on 6 May 2016 under the new structure, rather than 6 July 2016.

It’s been argued that this group of women are the first to receive the new higher level of state pension. I believe that’s a smokescreen as the majority of these women won’t in fact receive anything close to this new figure because of the mysterious way in which the new state pension is calculated.

Clearly there would be a cost to the Exchequer of making this change at this late stage. However, I believe most rational people would believe this is a price worth paying to correct this big social injustice.

John Moret is principal at MoretoSipps

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Comments

There are 22 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The WASPI campaign was not rational and was flawed. They want to unwind not just the 2011 changes (speeding up of 65 to 66) but also the 1995 changes (changing from 60 to 65). If they had stuck to the 2011 changes as being unfair, I would have had sympathy with that and signed. As they wanted the 1995 changes to be unwound then I cannot agree with that

  2. margaret ainsworth 12th January 2016 at 2:40 pm

    John, I am a little confused. A woman born on 10 Jan 1954 was also already in the transition phase from 60 to 65. Then the age was raised from 65 to 66 for all those born from January 1954. So, I woman born in June 1953 receives her state pension at 63 and a half, but a woman born in Jan 1954 has to wait until 66. I would have thought the woman born after Jan 1954 were in an even worse position in relation to their contemporaries born just a few months earlier. Have I got this wrong?

  3. Excellent article, it helps to explain the unfairness of the whole situation. I think that these women should be compensated from the DWP coffers, after all they have paid in their fair share over the years.

  4. Who is treated more unfairly – the woman born in July 1953 who will get her state pension at 64 two years after some of her classmates, or the woman born in July 1956 who has to wait until she is 66? The proposal in the article provides transitional relief for the first woman, but the second is apparently not worthy.

    The problem with any suggested remedy of addressing “unfairness” for an entire cohort is that this will create another perceived unfairness somewhere else. Where does it end?

    The only two sensible solutions are 1) Do nothing, or 2) Transitional measures to assist those in genuine financial need.

    Regardless of what it says in the petition, WASPI of have set their goal as the effective restoration of SPA 60 for all 1950s women, making a mockery of the suggestion that they are not opposed to equalisation.

    • They lost all sympathy from me when they state they are against “unfair discrimination” as well.

      They don’t seem to have a problem with all men being treated less fairly than their sisters, till equalisation occurs.

      So in reality, they should rename themselves, Women in favour of discrimination against men

  5. Andy Robertson-Fox 12th January 2016 at 3:01 pm

    This is not discrimination; all the women within the same cohort governed by date of birth parameters are being treated equally and academic years are totally irrelevant. The process is disproportıonate and may seem unfair but unfairness is not discrimination.
    However, there is a group of UK pensioners who have paid into the NI scheme on the same terms and conditions as everybody else during their working lives but are denied the right to withdraw their state Pension on the same conditions as everyone else in retirement. They are the frozen pensioners.
    That is discrimination not this readjustment of SRA and is a far greater social injustice which affects half a million or 4% of all UK pensioners world wide, has been going on for over sixty years and is perpetuated by being incorporated as Section 20 of the Pension Act 2014.

  6. just to clarify a woman born 24 February 1953 received her pension on 6th January this year 2016.A woman born a year later 24 February 1954 will not receive her pension until 6 July 2019. Certainly the 1954 women are the ones suffering

  7. LIfe is unfair, get over it. Men are unfairly treated as they did not get a pension until 65 all this is doing is making a level field for both sexes.

  8. John argues that there are a quarter of a million people who are being treated unfairly, and equates this to being discriminated against. His solution to this unfairness / discrimination is to continue discriminating against even larger numbers of men who will have to put up with unequal / discriminatory State Pension Ages for a further 18 months until they are eventually equalised some time in 2022.
    He also states that the cost will fall on the Exchequer – this actually means one of three things: either George will have to borrow more (and face even greater criticism for not reducing / eliminating the deficit); someone’s taxes will have to go up; or someone else’s benefits will have to be reduced (Working Family Tax Credit reductions anyone?). Rational people only believe a price is worth paying until and unless they are nominated to be the ones to pay it – then they tend to become very irrational!
    The alternative is to magic the money from somewhere else – I believe the SNP MPs identified the money being wasted on military action in the Middle East; although I am sure that they (and Labour) have already spent this at least several times over increasing expenditure on the NHS, getting rid of the “bedroom tax”, spending more on education, taking in more refugees, etc. etc.

  9. You want women born between 1952 and 1953 to receive a smoother transition into state pension equality so you signed a petition for something completely different?

    As a reminder, the WASPI petition is this: The Government must make fair transitional arrangements for **all women born on or after 6th April 1951** who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age (SPA).” (my emphasis)

    WASPI has repeatedly clarified that by “unfairly borne” they mean “won’t get their State Pension at age 60”. They demand that everyone born in the 1950s gets a State Pension at 60, which is up to *six* extra years, not two.

    The words ‘white knight’ come to mind.

  10. My wife and I were both born in 1954 so are both affected – my wife to a far greater extent. When changes were announced in 1995, this gave 15+ years to plan for forthcoming changes – a perfectly reasonable timeframe. Instead of receiving a pension at 60 my wife would have to plan for receiving a pension at 63.5 years. However, the changes announced in 2011, giving totally insufficient time for planning, resulted in my wife having to wait a further two years to receive her pension. To my mind, this is totally unfair and women born in the fifties are being unfairly penalised. We accepted the need for deferment until 63.5 years but vigorously oppose a further two years deferment given that the announcement was not made until 2011 and we received no communication of the change.

    • Sorry Peter but this fallacy that you didn;t have time to plan, is just that a fallacy. So she needs to work a bit longer, are you honestly telling me, that in 2011, you had “plans” in place to do certain things at certain times, that required your wife to be retired?

      People are living a LOT longer, state pension age should have been equalised and increased decades ago, however the politicians left it till it HAD to be done, because they knew the number that would whine.

      What about the “poor people” who like me will have to wait till at least 67?..

      The country cannot afford it, so who do you suggest pays? Are you going to pay for it????

      No, your going to be retired, not earning anything, paying probably not that much tax, whilst consuming yet more in the way of resources from the likes of the NHS. The people who will pay, are exactly the same as those that will pay the massive national debt we have that we have run up, because so many of us are unable to accept the country living within its means and expect to have this, that and the other given to them.

      The people that will pay are our children and grandchildren, who will still be paying for the excesses and irresponsible voting of those born between about 1940 and 1990. I only hope the younger generations are more financially responsible..

      • Im fed up to keep hearing that were living longer 5hats not our fault alot of us have illnesses to put up with and after working over 45 or more years have had enough.its the young ones that should be taking over the jobs now not seeing us older ones working ourselves to death.

  11. I always thought age discrimination law was about unfairness due to age women born 1954 are surely protected under this law?

  12. Trevor Harrington 12th January 2016 at 8:09 pm

    What total rubbish !

    The reason why the UK women’s state pension age has been increased from 60 to age 65, and then to age 67 (along with men) has absolutely nothing to do with fairness, ages, or logic, and it certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with any concept of who might or might not live longer than the other (ONS statistics clearly state that life expectancy for males and females has hardly changed in the UK for the last 30 to 40 years)

    I would ask that you ignore the political bs and please look at the facts _
    The Government is short of money – we are still in an annual budget deficit which is eye-watering.
    We have a national debt, which is comparable with that which we acquired at the end of the Second World War.

    The biggest budget expenditure (after the NHS) is state pensions, and that is the only realistic target which any government in this predicament can focus on, in order to redeem the annual budget deficit, and eventually pay off the national debt.

    So, if you want a debate, I would suggest that, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, that you consider the real issues :-
    1) who spent the money way beyond any possibility of servicing the debt – the Blair / Brown Labour Government of 1997 to 2010 – indisputable FACT.
    2) were previous Governments, both Conservative and Labour, culpable – absolutely they were, even way back into the 1960s and 1970s – FACT.
    3) what have they spent the money on – obviously the electorate which they believed would vote them back into power – but essentially the public sector pension scam, where policemen retire at age 52, teachers are encouraged to take redundancy on enhanced pensions at age 54 (1990s), everybody in the public sector is encouraged to take early retirement on the criminal fraud of a “bad back” or “stress”, Councillors are employed on impossible pension benefits, and all of them were due (many still are) to take their pensions at age 60 as a normal retirement age for both men and women, after working a lifetime on a basic working week of less than 35 hours.

    The fact is that, through the ballot box and our collective selection of national governments, for the last 40 years or more, we have lavished huge sums of public money into the public sector, and all their impossible employment benefits, which we simply cannot afford. Next time you hear a politician waxing lyrical about how wonderful a certain public sector service is (police, teachers, firemen) … BE CYNICAL … it is your right … they are doing the job that they are very amply rewarded and overly paid to do – FACT

    We are now paying for this unrealistic political folly.

    I have many clients who worked in the public sector, in middle management or lower, who have “availed” themselves of these fictitious ill health, or fraudulent early retirement benefits, where their enhanced retirement benefits would have cost a private sector company well over £500,000 and in many cases over £1 million …. EACH! This has been happening tens of thousands of times … over and over again … for DECADES !

    The real issue is – WHO are the people who allowed this to happen – those who expected, and indeed have subsequently received, the same generous retirement benefits (at our expense) for themselves.

    We are where we are … however, we MUST learn to understand where this national, social, and demographic disaster has grown from, and we must then ensure that it never happens again … ever.

    Personally, and I would commend you to do the same, I would demand some honesty in politics, certainly a great deal more than currently exists, especially as we move towards a vote on one of the biggest money wasters of them all – Europe – and I would urge you to ensure that you never vote, ever again, for any politician who has no concept of what his/her personal “social beliefs” might cost the rest of us who will have to pay for it.

    Welcome to the real World …

  13. I think they need to step back, look at the whole situation and ask themselves are the genders equal? – No!
    To be equal, then gender needs to be completely taken out of the equation. Same SPA and no transitional part for those just over the mark. The Gender Equalisation Ruling basically meant that our current SPA’s for Men and Women wasn’t fair, so the past was wrong, we should have equalised them from then on. Brought the SPA for Men down to the same for Women with the DWP bearing the cost (as the Insurers have with regard to car insurance etc) and then raised it again FOR BOTH.
    Ok, it’s a shame for the poor ladies that had paid their NI and expected to retire earlier than they can now, but it goes back to the same overriding question, are we equal or are we not?

  14. Trevor Harrington – Absolutely spot on Sir!

  15. The real unfairness was women retiring five years early in the first place.

  16. Trevor Harrington,Phil Holbrook and David Bennett have nailed it and there is no discrimination here like with the Frozen Pensioners mentioned by Andy Robertson-Fox but a lack of communication by the DWP has been the case for the Frozen Pensioners for decades.
    I will not go into the problem of the Frozen Pension which has been aired here before as most of you know the score there.

  17. Born June 1954 was due to Retire at 64 and 2 (Aug 2019) month now thanks to 2011 Act will retire 6 March 2020 so the unfairness goes beyond January 1954

  18. Is there still a campaign in place or is too late? DoB 7 March 1955. Feeling very cheated. Not only has my SPA been increased from original 60yrs to 66yrs. I am ineligible for DWP Empoyment Support Allowance because I have an employer pension as a result of taking a voluntary redundancy package. Which is also taxed. I have paid ” the big stamp

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