Burnmouth’s Lynne Craighead, co-ordinator of the Scottish Borders WASPI group (Women Against State Pension Inequality), is in fighting mood thanks to the Pension’s Minister.
During a parliamentary debate earlier this month about the Government’s failure to inform women born in the 1950s about changes to their pensions, Pension’s Minister Guy Oppenheim suggested that the women affected could apply for apprenticeships until they reached their new retirement date.
“As co-ordinator for our local Scottish Borders WASPI group I would like to update 1950s born women of the latest debate at Westminster which ended with the Conservative Minister suggesting that taking up apprenticeships would help to ease the hardship of women born in the 1950s who have had their pension age increased to 66 with little or no notice,” said Lynne.
“WASPI women are flooding the DWP with complaint letters which are initially met with the patronising standard responses and then multiple long, complex procedures,” added Lynne.
“The system seems to be designed to put women off - but the WASPI women aren’t going away.”
Failure to communicate is the crux of the WASPI case.
The 1995 Pension Act began the equalisation of the State Pension Age for men and women, with a gradual change between 2010 and 2020. This should have given the women affected 15 years to prepare for this delay to their pension age but successive Governments failed to inform women directly about the changes and the first letters were not sent until 2009.
Many women never received a letter about the 1995 changes at all but only discovered the change when they were informed of a second deferment (from a pension age of 65 rising to 66) after the Tory-led Coalition Government accelerated the changes in 2011.
“A hung Parliament and the fact that 20 DUP and Conservative MPs have signed WASPI pledges during the General Election, means that there is a real chance to force the Government’s hand,” said Lynne.
“I met up with our new Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont last Friday along with WASPI legal director, Susan Beevers. The meeting was very productive and Mr Lamont agreed to write to the Minister on our behalf to urge him to meet with WASPI.
“He also said that he would be prepared to hold a meeting specifically for women affected.”
“I have also requested a meeting with our new MSP Rachael Hamilton and members of the group will meet with her in September.
“The MP/MSP surgeries taking place across the Borders during the summer will be an excellent opportunity for women – and their families – to let John and Rachael know the impact that this issue is having upon them and how a solution is needed urgently.”
If you are affected by these changes contact the local group: firstname.lastname@example.org