Women protest Pensions Theft

Various groups of women protesting over changes in the UK pension system came together in Hyde Park to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and to go from there to lobby their MPs at Parliament. The event included many dressed as suffragettes to mark the 100th anniversary of some British women getting the vote.

The 1995 Conservative Government’s Pension Act, worsened by the 2011 Pension Acts, affects some 3.8 million women who have lost up to six years State Pension – for many over £40,000. They complain that the changes were brought in with little or no personal notice and faster than initially promised.

The first UK state pension introduced on Jan 1st 1909 was for men and women with low incomes from the age of 70, and was replaced in 1925 by a pension payable from age 65 dependent on contributions paid by workers and their employers. The higher married couples allowance was only paid when both of the couple were 65; because most men married younger women this created problems, so in 1940 the qualifying age for women was lowered to 60, which also applied to those who were in work and thus qualified for their own state pension. Women seldom continued in paid employment after marriage at the time.

Changes were made to the scheme in 1948, but the different ages remained in place until European equality rules forced the 1995 Tory government to bring about equalisation of pension age; they put this as far ahead as possible, with a slow rise of the retirement age for women to take place starting in April 2010 and reaching 65 in April 2020.

In 2007, Labour legislated for further increases in pension age for both men and women starting in 2024 and reaching 68 in 2044-46. The Coalition government accelerated the rise in pension age, and both men and women had the same retirement age of 65 by November 2018.

A person aged 60 now will have to work until he or she is 66, while someone aged 55 will need to work until they are 67 and someone aged 40 until they are 68.

Of course, future changes will almost certainly make those current figures incorrect which is what these women have found, and the figures from the government for their retirement age on which they planned their financial futures have been made incorrect by later changes. They feel – and it is hard not to sympathise with them – that the scheme under which they were making their National Insurance contributions should have informed them how these changes would affect them. It also appears to be the case that many were given incorrect information, with those working for the DWP failing to be aware of or understand the forthcoming changes.

Behind the increasing pension age is the more welcome trend of increasing life expectancy. Since 1948, when the NHS began this has increased by around 10-11 years for both men and women who at age 65 can now expect to live on average to 83.5 and almost 86 respectively.

After a number of speeches from representatives of the varous groups who share the anger over their pensions but have some differences in their aims the protest came to an end. I’d expected them to march to Parliament for their lobby and further rally there, but they simply told people to make their own way there.

I did wonder whether this was because the Metropolitan Police had refused to facilitate a march, telling them as they did another group of protesters that they would have to employ private contractors to ‘police’ the event. When the protesters found this would cost them around £40,000, they got Liberty to take the matter up – and the police quickly backed down and did their job. I think other marches in a similar position have simply called the Met’s bluff and gone ahead telling them they were not needed – but the police have turned up in any case. Autonomous groups have of course ignored the legal requirement to inform the police and simply marched.

More about the protest and many more pictures at: Women against Pension Theft


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4 Responses to “Women protest Pensions Theft”

  1. ChrisL says:

    Small typo Peter “The first UK state pension introduced in 1970”
    Merry Christmas

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