MPs support pension campaign

Yvonne Fovargue
Yvonne Fovargue

MPs from the borough have continued backing women battling changes to the state pension age following a Westminster debate.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign’s drive for fairer transitional arrangements was backed by MPs as the matter was discussed in Parliament.

Makerfield MP and Labour local government spokesperson Yvonne Fovargue was at the Westminster Hall event and said women born in the 1950s had been treated poorly by ministers.

Although Wigan parliamentary representative Lisa Nandy was on constituency duties when the event took place in London she also gave her full backing to the protestors.

The Government has repeatedly been criticised for its handling of the row, with Waspi saying women have had no time to plan for the changes at which they could retire leaving post-work plans in tatters.

Ministers faced further ire recently when one Conservative politician suggested that those affected could take up apprenticeships to get back into the workplace.

Ms Fovargue said: “The Waspi campaign is one of the great injustices of our time.

“Women born in the 1950s have been let down by Government decisions which has robbed them of retirement income and extended the state pension age with little opportunity to make alternative arrangements.

“All the Government can offer is that these women take up apprenticeships - a ludicrous suggestion that is just not practical.”

Ms Nandy said: “I am extremely proud to have supported the Waspi campaign for many years, both locally and in Parliament.

“More than 4,000 women in Wigan have been let down by this Government’s decision to change the retirement age for those born in the 1950s.

“Despite promises to implement a ‘transitional deal’ for the hundreds of thousands who have been left out of pocket, this Government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate provision for the Waspi women.

“Many of the women impacted by the change to the pension age have been left in real financial difficulty as a consequence of the changes, and have been forced out of retirement in order to cover the shortfall in their income.

“I will continue to support the Waspi campaign and its objective to achieve justice for the women who have suffered as a consequence of the Government’s changes to the state pension age.”

Campaigners in the borough founded the Wigan and Makerfield Waspi Group earlier this year, having previously worked across the whole borough as the Local Pensions Group (LPG).

The group has enjoyed consistently strong support from politicians, with several high-profile councillors joining the likes of Ms Nandy and Ms Fovargue in backing their efforts.

Speaking when the group was founded in May, Wigan and Makerfield Waspi chairperson Jan Fulster told of the difficulties women in the borough are facing.

She said: “When I look around and see ladies who’ve had to sell homes, who are no longer fit and able to do the work they did before, who are having to chase Jobseekers’ Allowance, it is just heartbreaking. We have nurses having to use foodbanks.”

One woman in the borough affected by the changes wrote to her MP describing how the alterations had left her first relying on a succession of temporary cleaning jobs to make ends meet and then having to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

She said she had also spent time working self-employed, battled ill health made worse by the stress of the situation and got through most of her savings trying to stay financially afloat until she can get her pension at 66.

Waspi does not challenge the decision to raise the state pension age but is critical of how it has been handled.