Tag Archives: WASPI

The Tories are cheating us out of our pensions – and our retirements

Arguments used by the Conservative government to justify increasing the age at which we may draw our pensions are increasingly false, it seems.

Fellow social media journalist David Hencke has all the information on his website.

He says the Tory claim is that as life expectancies continue to rise, it will be impossible for the pension fund to pay out for everybody unless the pensionable age rises too.

There’s just one problem:

Ministers always quote figures up to 2011… [the] last year of any big rise in longevity which had risen for decades.

Since then the rise has flattened – in one year it actually fell – and last year was the first in five years that showed a small rise. Next year the ONS is warning will be the first year they will have figures of the effects of Covid-19 – and the hint is that longevity will fall because of the disproportionate deaths among pensioners.

Worse still:

When you compare the UK to many other developed countries both men and women have lost out big time in the longevity stakes. The countries that make up the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) are all near the bottom of the table.

So while we all are being expected to wait longer for our pension in the UK, our extra weeks of life expectancy fall well below many comparable developed countries. We are being cheated – or at least not given the full facts – by our political leaders. So don’t believe any facile claims we have a world beating system for pensioners. Far from it.

The increased longevity argument was used strongly by the Department for Work and Pensions in its court battle to avoid paying compensation to 3.8 million women whose pension age rose from 60 to 66 – but who were not given enough warning to make proper preparations for it.

But our people aren’t living as much longer as people in other countries. What are those nations doing about pensions? And how are they doing it?

It seems clear that Mr Hencke is right and we are being cheated.

I wonder what we can do about it, if DWP representatives are prepared to perjure themselves in court to preserve a lie.

Source: The chances of living longer are getting shorter – new Office of National Statistics figures show only small rise in longevity | Westminster Confidential

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Call for Budget boost to tackle poverty and boost incomes is naive political optimism

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Give the SNP its due: at least the Scottish nationalists are keeping Tory impoverishment of the public in the national conversation.

On the eve of the Budget 2020 statement, they are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to boost the incomes of the poorest people.

But it’s never going to happen.

Not under a Tory government, anyway.

Tories like keeping people poor.

They planned a strategy to make us all poor, back in the 1970s – and have been following it faithfully ever since. Did you think the attack on trade unions and the dismantling of our industry was a mistake?

Think again.

We already know the call to abolish the Bedroom Tax will fall on deaf ears; the Tories just announced that they’re not lifting it from people who have suffered discrimination because of it, so they certainly won’t help anyone else.

We know that calls to halt Universal Credit until “fundamental flaws” are fixed – like the five-week wait for initial payments that push people deep into debt – won’t attract attention. Therese Coffey said last week that the five-week wait will remain.

And we know the Tories won’t boost support for pensioners; their contempt for the WASPI women is well-demonstrated.

Instead, we’re likely to see Mr Sunak announcing measures that appear to be generous without actually helping the majority of the people.

He’ll try to boost business – so very rich businesspeople will profit more.

And he’ll probably make good on some of the empty promises that Boris Johnson has already made – the extra NHS funding that the Tories say is the biggest boost in history, but isn’t; the doubling of flood defence funding that they were forced to announce out of embarrassment.

So don’t expect change of any value to you at all.

Just be ready to attack the Tories for their habitual cruelty.

Source: Budget 2020: Tories must reverse benefit cuts to tackle poverty and boost incomes – Welfare Weekly

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For 3.7 million older women, the choice in this election is between Labour and injustice

WASPI protesters: For these women in Norfolk it seems clear that voting Labour is their only opportunity to get justice.

When you’ve had tens of thousands of pounds taken away by the Conservatives in a historic injustice that they won’t correct, voting Labour for £58 billion in compensation is a no-brainer.

It might even cost Boris Johnson the general election.

Mr Johnson has exhibited a callous indifference to the plight of the so-called WASPIs (Women Against State Pension Inequality):

Don’t be mollified by his tone; it is simply an attempt to mask the fact that he is quite happy to plunge millions into poverty by stealing the pensions they have spent decades funding and to which they are entitled.

Labour, on the other hand, is offering compensation.

The party agrees with the WASPI women that the decision to change their pension age without giving them proper notification was a ” betrayal” that “left millions of women with no time to make alternative plans – with sometimes devastating personal consequences”.

The party’s manifesto has promised to “work with these women to design a system of recompense for the losses and insecurity they have suffered”.

And it says: “We will ensure that such an injustice can never happen again by legislating to prevent accrued rights to the state pension from being changed.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has added that Labour would pay the money as a “contingency”, comparing it with compensation the Conservative government had to pay to mesothelioma victims after losing a long-running legal battle last year.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have attacked Labour’s plan, saying it is unclear how it will be funded.

For the WASPI women and the 3.7 million people who have lost money due to the pension age rise, this makes it impossible to vote for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

These are people who have lost between £15,000 and £32,000 as a result of a decision to change their rights without letting them have any choice in the matter.

Even if they have been lifelong Tories or Liberals, that makes the choice obvious.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats are offering them worse than nothing; they are pushing these women towards poverty and debt.

Labour is offering them a way to avoid it.

Even if they have spent a lifetime opposing Labour, it is in their own interests to support that party this time.

Source: General election 2019: Labour pledges payouts to pension age rise women – BBC News

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Labour vows to help women affected by pension age changes after court lets them down

The Labour Party it will do what it can to compensate the so-called ‘WASPI’ protesters – Women Against State Pension Inequality – after the High Court ruled that the government had not discriminated against them on grounds of age and/or sex.

The government has implemented changes to the pension age for women, in order to equalise it with that for men, in a move that affected nearly four million women who were born in the 1950s – some became homeless as a result and many became suicidal.

They said not enough was done to publicise the changes and to ensure that those affected would be ready.

The UN committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has said the rise in the pension age has added to “poverty, homelessness and financial hardship among the affected women”.

“The 1950s women helped build Britain and were let down by the government’s pension changes. They will understandably be very disappointed by today’s finding,” said shadow pensions minister Jack Dromey.

“Labour has already made commitments to support women affected, including by extending Pension Credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women. We will consult further with the 1950s women affected as to what future support we can put in place once in government to help ensure that all these women have security and dignity in older age.”

Michael Mansfield QC, representing the women affected, added: “They have pushed women who were already disadvantaged into the lowest class you can imagine.

“They’re on the brink of survival, and I’m not overstating that. This group – especially the percentage of the group affected born in 1953 onwards – are increasingly having taken away from them four to six years’ worth of state pension. We’re dealing with very serious sums: £37,000 to £47,000. I think any citizen would be concerned by that withdrawal.”

In a summary of the court’s decision, Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple said their hands were tied: “The court was saddened by the stories contained in the claimants’ evidence. But the court’s role was limited. There was no basis for concluding that the policy choices reflected in the legislation were not open to government. In any event they were approved by Parliament.

“The wider issues raised by the claimants about whether the choices were right or wrong or good or bad were not for the court. They were for members of the public and their elected representatives.”

In fact, it seems the only person happy about the verdict was Boris Johnsons spokesperson, who crowed that it has “always been our view” the changes made were “entirely lawful and did not discriminate on any grounds”.

“Government decided in 1995 it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality,” the spokesperson said. “Today the court recognised the extensive communications that the Department for Work and Pensions made to publicise these changes over many years.”

Did it?

It seems clear that there’s only one way these pensioners are going to get compensation for this decision – made by a Tory government in 1995 and implemented by a Tory government in 2010:

Elect a Labour government.

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WASPI women stage noisy walkout of Commons after minister denies them pensions help

WASPI protesters (these were in Norfolk) [Image: Eastern Daily Press.]

Proceedings in Parliament became a little noisier than usual yesterday – and for a good reason:

I’ll let Labour’s Laura Pidcock explain:

Mr Opperman had just refused to provide any transitional help for women who are facing an increase in the age at which they will be paid the state pension.

Changes to the state pension age for women were introduced in Acts of Parliament in 1995 and 2011 and mean that, by 2020, 2.6 million women will have to wait until they are 66 before receiving their pension.

Mr Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “People living and staying healthier for longer is to be welcomed, but the Government must not ignore the fact that it also brings enormous financial and demographic pressures. The key choice that a Government face when seeking to control state pension spend is to increase the state pension age or pay lower pensions, with an inevitable impact on pensioner poverty. The only alternative is to ask the working generation to pay an ever larger share of their income to support pensioners.

“In July 2017 the Government published their first review of the state pension age, which set out a coherent strategy targeted at strengthening and sustaining the UK state pension system for many decades to come. It accepts the key recommendation of John Cridland’s independent review which was to increase the state pension age from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

“The review is clear about increasing life expectancy and the challenges it poses. People are living longer. Almost 6,000 people in the UK turned 100 in 2016, compared with 3,000 in 2002. By 2035 there will be more than twice as many people over 100 as there are now.”

It was while he was saying these words that the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) representatives in the public gallery stood up and, at first, turned their backs on Mr Opperman, before shouting “Shame on you!” and staging a mass walkout.

This Writer can sympathise. Not only was Mr Opperman quoting inaccurate statistics about longevity – people have started living shorter lives since the Conservatives came to office – but he was also wrong about an increase in the amount working-age people would be asked to spend on pensions – the National Insurance fund for Great Britain was in surplus by nearly £21 billion in October last year, while the Northern Ireland fund was half a billion pounds in surplus, and there is no reason to believe that the transitional arrangements being requested would put that fund into deficit.

One particularly strong argument in favour of transitional arrangements is the fact that the women who are being affected were not given sufficient warning of the change and will suffer considerable financial difficulty as a result.

So the WASPI women were right; Mr Opperman should be ashamed.

The debate served a useful purpose – the Commons agreed to call on the Government to publish proposals to provide a non-means tested bridging solution for all women born on or after April 6, 1950, who are affected by changes to the State Pension age in the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts.

No doubt the miserly Tories will refuse the request – they would rather provide useless tax breaks to bankers, after all – but their response will undoubtedly provide another nail in the coffin of the arrogant and incompetent minority Conservative government.


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The DUP’s support of WASPI women is important for a very clear financial reason

Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

It is impossible for an administration to claim it is financially responsible – let alone that it will balance the books – when it has based the alliance by which it is clinging to power on spending a huge amount of money, only to have its new ally demand the spending of a huge amount more.

The cash is available, of course – the National Insurance fund is billions of pounds in credit, or at least that is what we’re told. The Tories are staying very quiet about that, which implies that they have an underhand plan for it.

And it seems the vote will go in favour of the Opposition – unless the Tory rebels pull their usual trick of backing down at the last minute, because they don’t want their disloyalty to humiliate their party (real meaning: cowardice).

So Theresa May is on a triple-loser: Her deal with the DUP is brought into question; her party cannot be trusted to back her; and she will be defeated in Parliament and unable to push through her own policy programme.

Theresa May faces the humiliation of a Commons defeat, as the Democratic Unionist Party prepares to side with Labour in a debate on women’s state pensions.

A petition on the issue is on course to gain enough signatories to be debated in the Commons, but the DUP has said it will vote against the Conservatives if they continue to refuse “justice” for the women, who have been hit by sharp accelerations in the state pension age.

It will also pile pressure on the Tories to finally help the so-called “Waspi women” (Women Against State Pension Inequality), who have been forced to wait longer than expected to retire.

The Waspi campaign group say the women’s “retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences”, because of confusing retirement changes, and demand compensation in the petition.

DUP MPs have already joined with Labour by demanding transitional help, describing it as a “moral duty” in a parliamentary motion.

Now Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s work and pensions spokesman, has told The Independent: “We stand by our manifesto commitment that this issue needs to be dealt with.

“The Government cannot go on with delay and delay on this until the women do finally qualify for their pension – or they die off.”

The DUP would almost certainly back Labour if the vote was to provide transitional help for those forced to delay retirement, Mr Wilson added. Some Tory backbenchers could also rebel, in a showdown expected over the next couple of months – having publicly voiced support for the women.

Source: Government faces humiliation as DUP poised to side with Labour over women’s pensions


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Labour puts clear red water between itself and the Tories on women’s retirement

‘Waspi’ women [Image: Lennox Herald].

This is a stop-gap solution – but it will help.

Labour has promised to continue working with the so-called ‘WASPI’ – Women Against State Pension Inequality – organisation to get a better deal for women the Tories have been depriving of their pension rights.

The Conservatives, of course, couldn’t care less.

Labour will today unveil major plans to hand back 2.6million women some of the pensions that were taken from their grasp by the Tories.

The party will let ‘Waspi women’ (Women Against State Pension Inequality) retire two years earlier than planned by the Conservative government.

There’s a catch – the women will have their entitlement reduced by 6% for each early retirement year, up to a maximum of 12%.

But it means 1950s-born women who had their pension age hiked at short notice would be able to retire at 64 rather than 66, with no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Read more: Labour unveil major plans to hand 2.6 million Waspi women the pensions taken from them by the Tories


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