Friday, April 01, 2016

The WASPI Campaign.

This post is my, perhaps uninformed, view of the 'access to state pensions' by women born after 1953. And I welcome different perspectives and corrections. Willing to update in response to persuasive argument. Should begin by recording that I do have some sympathy with the 'WASPI Campaign'. I do not think the women involved are being unreasonable. Several have approached me over recent months, and one called on me yesterday. I'm not sure what she expected me to say or do. Anyway I decided to be blunt (and hopefully polite) about why I agree with the Gov't position, and not that of those involved in the WASPI Campaign - which inevitably leaves me less than popular with those affected !! 

The root of the problem stems from a 195 pensions act, when it was decided that men and women should be eligible for the state pension at the same age. Also resolved in 1995, there would a cut off date. It would not effect women born before 1954. The change would come into effect between 2010-2020 - to avoid disruption to indivual retirement plans. The Coalition Gov't in 2010 (I think) resolved to bring the 2020 date forward to April 2018. Later, in response to concerns about what was seen as too short a timetable, last year this date was moved 6 months (from April to October). The cost of this minor change is roughly £1,000,000,000. 

Compounding the issue is our increased longevity, which makes the cost of the state pension unaffordable. The Government had no option (in my view) but to raise the age we all become eligible to 67 yrs - exacerbating the position of women born 1954 and after. On balance, I think our living longer is rather good, even if does create big problems for the Treasury!! 

Where my sympathy comes in concerns the publicity surrounding the changes. The basis of the WASPI Campaign complaints is that Gov't did not adequately warn about the coming change. Not giving proper time to prepare. Of course many knew. Mrs D and certainly knew. This was before I was an MP. We discussed it. But I accept many didn't realise. Some women had made life-changing plans based on retirement at 60. Some women tell me they did not know, and others tell me it would have been difficult to miss it. There may have been poor official Gov't communication, but there was plenty of discussion amongst the general public. But this is a fair debating point. 

The opposition parties at Westminster are creating a huge row over this - tabling 'Opposition Day' debates on the issue, and bordering on the offensive towards the Minister. And despite the fact that it was a Labour Govt between 1997 and 2010. I attended the last debate on this issue a few weeks back - even though any vote on Opposition Day' debates are not binding. I wanted to understand the issue. I do think the women involved in the WASPI Campaign have good reason to complain about inadequate official communication, and consequent disruption to some retirement plans. But in the end I don't think the Govt had or has any choice but stick to it's current position.


RedMaggs said...

I mus admit that I only found out about a week ago - and perhaps you think it's a good idea simply because you are already receiving your pension but those of us who have to wait another 7 extra years are not. I always wanted to retire at 60 - when I started work that was what I was told I could do - I totally agree with WASPI - and for you to label this as "The WASPI Women" is in some way offensive - the title is "Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign".

I agree with equalisation, it’s the implementation that has severe consequences for women born in the 1950’s and the early 1960's, as a result of no/insufficient/inappropriate notification from DWP.

The EU directive to equalise didn’t set a timetable. The Conservative Government did, then accelerated the changes (Pension Act 1995/2011) much faster than promised
Are you aware DWP didn’t write to anyone for 14 years? (Pensions Act 1995) many women only had 2 years notice of a six year increase (Pensions Act 1995/2011) many finding out about both age rises at the same time, when it was too late to re plan, many had already made irreversible decisions, such as finishing work, e.g. to become a carer, on the legitimate expectation, of eligibility to a state pension at 60. Wouldn’t you agree, time is of the essence when planning for retirement? It’s impossible to plan financially for retirement at short notice, DWP have denied women this opportunity.

As acknowledged by the Pensions Minister, ageism in the workplace still exists, it will take time to change the mindset or employers, promoting the value of older people in the workplace, won’t help.

This and many others are reasons why it is unfair - once again the old adage of we can't afford it - why should one group be told that they are "too expensive" when the Government bailed out the banks to the tune of £500 billion and let them pay ridiculous bonuses out still - we subsidise the "privatised rail companies" to the tune of £4bn in public money while they then are paying almost £200m of that money to their shareholders. And what happened to David Cameron's promise to go after the Tax Avoiders?

Anonymous said...

There is a problem for women born between 1950 and 1954 they have seen their retirement age increased, Not by the full 5 years, but on a sliding scale. They had very little notice of this change and are not eligible for the new increased state pension which starts this month, and which women born after 1954 are eligible for.

Glyn Davies said...

I certainly don't think the acronym, WASPI to be offensive. As far as I know It's how they refer to themselves, and is the commonly used description. Anon - thanks. I think I need to develop my knowledge of the position of 50-54 yr olds. I will update when I'm sure of correct position.

MaliG said...

Glyn I think that you view is pretty moderate on this. Ignorance of changes in law that affect you is really not a reason to blame anyone other than yourself. These changes have had enormous publicity over decades. As we all sail towards retirement - a vital time of financial planning - one should be expected to make some effort to research the background and issues surrounding your decision making or get good financial advice from a qualified advisor.

If we are in a world of equality between the sexes - which I whole heartedly support in principle, but will come back to below - It is unequal that these changes have not been enacted much more quickly. Whenever government makes changes there are winners and losers in this case there was a situation where women were put at a massive state subsidised advantage over men. Nobody is stopping anyone retiring whenever they like they are just delaying the payment of state pension.

However the point I did want to come back to is the fact that there is a rather perverse push for women to get the same rewards (in this case this is an attempt to preserve an unfair female advantage) for "apparently" equal work. This is in itself a falsely based campaign. Personally I would say that any person of whatever gender, sexuality, creed or ethnic origin should get exactly the same reward for any given level of responsibility and in role performance and have equal opportunity to progress on merit. So instead of fiddling with pay scales if dinner ladies get paid less than bin men (I use the genders to make the point) they can achieve equal pay by applying to work as a bin operative. If female tennis players want equal prize money to the men it is easy - go play the men's tournament if you win you get the prize money. Which, of course, makes this feverish moaning about statistics comparing all men's incomes with all women's incomes utterly meaningless for progressing any cause.

So to be equal if these women want to have some relief from these changes to pension entitlement so should men of the same age be allowed the same. But that is not, rightly, going to happen. Sadly for them some of these people are going to have to "suck it up" to use a horrible Americanism. Anything else is unfair. Perhaps better communications should have been made from DWP but to not know this was coming you must have been living on another planet. We can't expect the state to nanny us through all this - or can we? And that is a whole other more pathetic and at the same time insidious level of expectation of the state. Crazy world!

RedMaggs said...

Glyn - it was the Waspi Women I had a problem with not the WASPI bit

Glyn Davies said...

Maggie - if I knew what was bothering you I'd amend it. Is the headline? How would you want it to read. I thought they called themselves WASPI Women

RedMaggs said...

It is - it is demeaning - they call themselves WASPI mainly

Glyn Davies said...

In response to comments, I've changed the references to "those involved in the WASPI Campaign. Personally I think it rather less readable. Not convinced those involved in WASPI would give a damn about this. I will ask the leaders of this movement and report back if I get the chance