“Hands off our pensions” was a campaign slogan against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition a few years ago.

It seems Labour’s proposal to help women affected by Tory plans to increase the state pension age has fallen foul of the WASPI – Women Against State Benefit Inequality – campaign. So Labour has acted quickly to remedy the situation.

After Labour released details of its proposal on Monday morning (September 25), the Waspi campaign raised serious concerns:

“This morning it was reported that the proposal due to be announced would only apply to some WASPI women. This is no better than the actuarial reduced pension suggested some time ago and rejected by the WASPI Campaign because it pushes women into pensioner poverty.

“We released a short statement earlier today explaining how concerned we were with this suggested proposal which would include elements of means testing and does not include any level of compensation for those who have lost such significant amounts of their State Pension.

“We have since met with many Labour MPs and campaign supporters at the conference to raise our concerns quickly and directly. While the proposal reported this morning was very disappointing we have taken comfort that Labour MPs and our supporters close to the Labour Party shared our concerns. The announcement has come as a shock to many of those MPs, some of whom sit in the Shadow Cabinet.

“The speech that has followed this afternoon provided less information that initially reported. We hope this is because those who support our campaign raised their concerns immediately with the leadership of the Labour Party.

“Although this means we remain unclear as to what the Labour Party position is, we are grateful for their pledge during the General Election to work directly with WASPI women to identify and deliver the transitional arrangements WASPI women need. We will continue to work with Labour MPs to find a solution which properly recognises the injustice for WASPI women and does not pit us against each other.”

But here’s the thing: Labour had promised to continue working with WASPI to get a better deal for the women the Tory government is letting down – and it seems shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams was true to the party’s word because, when she mentioned the issue in her speech later in the day, the previously-announced details were missing:

“The Tories have attacked the state pension, promising to increase the state pension age yet again. This has been most extreme for women born in the 1950s, many of whom have worked for well over 40 years and expected to retire at 60.

“The acceleration of women’s state pension equalisation by this Government has left hundreds of thousands of women in dire straits. I’ve heard of women sofa-surfing in their 60s, living off the kindness of family or friends, having used up all their savings, because they can no longer do the work they used to. Too often older people are discriminated at work, as well as when they try to get into work. A Government Minister suggested that women should go and find an apprenticeship during a recent debate!

“These women feel understandable anger that they have done the right thing and that the Government has failed to deliver its side of the bargain. I have been meeting with them on my national pensions tour. We promised in our Manifesto to provide pension credit and additional support to the two and a half million 1950s women still waiting to retire.

“As a starter, I can announce today that a Labour Government in power now, would allow these women to retire up to two years early.”

This should be taken as proof that Labour is genuine in its intention to provide help to those in need of it. All voters – especially those born in the 1950s – should take careful note of that fact.


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