Today, Bonnyrigg SNP Councillor Dianne Alexander urged Midlothian women who were born in the 1950s to write to the Department of Work and Pensions and the Independent Case Examiner to protest against the maladministration in the changes to their state pension age. Cllr Alexander issued the call from Jarnac Court, where she was joined by other protestors including local MSP Colin Beattie and SNP Cllrs Cath Johnstone and Kelly Parry, and many of the WASPI women who have joined the WASPI campaign.
WASPI is the acronym for Women Against State Pension Equality. The changes that are being proposed to the State Pension Law (1995/2011 Acts) have seen women’s State Pensionable Age (SPA) raised to 65 in line with men’s SPA, and then again in 2011, giving women only a years warning. WASPI members agree that the age should be equitable but believe that the way the changes will be implemented is significantly unfair, with little or no personal notice, being introduced faster than promised, and leaving those affected with no time to make alternative plans.
WASPI are proposing a non-means tested ‘bridging’ pension to provide an income until those affected reach SPA, alongside compensation for losses for those women who have already reached their SPA. The first case to be examined by the Independent Case Examiner has been failed, allowing the group to proceed with complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Councillor Alexander said, “This had been a shocking maladministration by the Labour and Tory governments, putting many women in a situation where they have no means of income for up to six years.
“Women have been forced to carry on working in jobs they are no longer physically able to do.
“The acceleration to the change is also unfair, meaning a year’s difference in birth date can mean a three year’s difference in when you get your pension.
“Disappointingly, though unsurprisingly, the Tories were notable by their absence, and for all Jeremy Corbyn’s rhetoric about promoting equality, his Midlothian Labour MP Danielle Rowley only saw fit to turn up briefly for the photo opportunity.”
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