Pension crisis protest

Carole White, left, with Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, right, showing her support for WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) at The Gerard Centre, Ashton-in-Makerfield

Carole White, left, with Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, right, showing her support for WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) at The Gerard Centre, Ashton-in-Makerfield

Protests against the speeding up of state pension age equalisation have taken to the borough’s streets again.

Makerfield and Leigh MPs Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham were among those flying the flag for pressure group Waspi in Ashton town centre.

Women Against State Pension Increase are fighting against the acceleration of two pieces of legislation which came in in 1995 and 2011 aimed at bringing the female state retirement age alongside men’s.

In Makerfield, according to the independent House of Commons Library, around 4,080 women are directly affected by the 2011 Pensions Act alone.

Waspi is lobbying the Government to introduce transitional arrangements for those women affected, many of whom were not notified about the changes, and took early retirement, leaving them without any income.

Fawcett Society figures show just 22 per cent of women reaching state pension age will qualify for the full £155.65 rate in 2016. The increase in the number of qualifying years from 30 to 35 disadvantages women and partly reverses one of the key measures in the previous pension reforms which benefitted women, reducing the number of qualifying years from 39 to 30.

The Government did not write to any woman affected by the rise in pension ages for nearly 14 years after the law was passed in 1995.

More than one million women born between April 6 1950 and April 5 1953 were told at age 58 or 59 that their pension age was rising from 60, in some cases to 63. More than half a million women born April 6 1953 to April 5 1955 were told between the ages of 57 and nearly 59 that their state pension age would be rising to between 63 and 66.

Ms Fovargue said: “The women who are set to lose out as a result of these mishandled reforms have worked hard all of their lives, but many are now desperately worried about their retirement plans.

“It is not at all surprising that the pension minister who introduced the reforms recently described them as a ‘bad decision’. The Government know they are in the wrong on this issue and desperately hope it goes away, but as more women become aware of these mis-handled reforms it’s not good enough for the Government to just look the other way.”