State pension campaign set for major demo

Waspi members taking their message to Wigan Council

Waspi members taking their message to Wigan Council

Women from the borough protesting about changes to the state pension age will take their battle to London for a mass demonstration.

The Leigh, Makerfield and Wigan branch of Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) will join campaigners from all over the country at Westminster to protest the lack of information they were given about alterations to the state pension age by the Government.

The lack of notice has caused real problems, not allowing women time to plan for their later retirement and pushing many into financial hardship

Pat Morgan

The borough’s protestors will march alongside thousands of others affected by the changes on March 8, which is International Women’s Day and also the Budget.

Waspi says women were left in the dark about Government changes to the age they could claim their state pension and have consequently been left struggling financially having had no time to make alternative plans for their retirements.

Protestors say the problems date back more than two decades to when the Government brought in a law making the state pension age 65 for both men and women.

Leigh, Makerfield and Wigan Waspi founder Pat Morgan said: “Of course we support bringing about equality in pensions between men and women. But the problem is that the government didn’t inform women when they made the change in 1995.

“Then, in 2011, the coalition government decided that the new pension age of 65 would be brought in two years earlier in 2018 and for both sexes it would rise to 66 in 2020. Again many women weren’t informed of this change.

“We are still meeting women in this borough who genuinely believe they will get their pension at 60. The lack of notice has caused real problems, not allowing women time to plan for their later retirement and pushing many into financial hardship.”

Campaigners from Leigh, Makerfield and Wigan Waspi will make the 420-mile round trip to the capital to have their voices heard.

The demonstration outside the houses of Parliament, which they hope wil be audible in the House of Commons where the chancellor Philip Hammond will be speaking, will be followed by a mass lobbying of MPs.

Waspi has received prominent political support locally, with Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and parliamentary representatives for Makerfield and Leigh Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham all lending their backing. The campaign has also been supported by a number of councillors from the borough.

A spokesman for the national Waspi campaign said: “Waspi does not object to the increase in the women’s state pension age, but simply the unfair and discriminatory way the changes were carried through.

“We have worked hard all our lives, many of us from the age of 15, saved and supported ourselves.

“Now we find that after a lifetime of doing the right thing, through a lack of notice of the pension age changes, the government is taking away our security in retirement.

“Many of our women have lost as much as £48,000 of pension income and had as little as 18 months’ notice of a six-year increase to their state pension age.”

So far Waspi’s calls for fairer transitional arrangements have been rebuffed by ministers, but the campaign has pledged to continue fighting.

To find out more about the local branch or sign up email Lpgwaspi@gmail.com or visit www.waspi.co.uk