As a result of the pension age for women increasing from 60 to 65, a legal challenge has been brought to the High Court to contest whether this change was “clearly communicated” by the UK Government. The challenge has been brought by campaign group Backto60 and the hearing took place on 5th and 6th of June 2019.
Up until 2010 women were eligible for their state pension aged 60, the changes made in 2011 mean those women will have to wait until they reach 65. This age is set to rise to 66 in October 2019 and, by 2028, both women and men will not be eligible for a state pension until they are 67. Approximately 3.9 million women have been affected by the change and are financially disadvantaged as a result.
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) and Backto60 oppose the change on the basis that women were not properly informed and had no time to make preparations. WASPI and Backto60 claim women born in the 1950s have been unfairly hit and many have been left in poverty.
The Government has stated that the change was intended to bring the retirement age for men and women into line, in response to the UK’s aging population. Therefore, there was a need to delay pension payments until later in a person’s life. The Government contends the change was clearly communicated before it was made.
Backto60 are calling for the women born in the 1950’s to be compensated for the pension payments they would have received if they had been allowed to claim their state pension at 60. Many women had given up their jobs as they turned 60 on this basis. The Government has ruled out repayment/compensation, claiming that it would cost more than £70bn.
Penny-Anne Wells, of the East Kent branch of the WASPI 2018 campaign, said:
the fight for justice is not about the equalisation of pension age for men and women but maladministration by the Department of Work and Pensions in the way the changes were introduced.
Of the women affected, some have been able to return to work. However, many of them have physical jobs, such as nursing, which require manual handling and lifting heavy things on a daily basis. While some people are able to carry on working until much later in life, arguably, a job that is physically taxing is not sustainable for someone aged 60 plus. Unfortunately, many women could not return to work and are now relying on their life savings to get by.
While most campaigners support pension age equality, sex discrimination is one of the grounds of challenge in this current dispute. Campaigners argue that the lack of notice and the speed of the change have resulted in women being disadvantaged. WASPI says it is not against equalisation:
But we do not accept the unfair way the changes to our state pension age were implemented with inadequate or no notice.
We’ll produce an updated briefing when the outcome of the challenge has been published.