AROUND 11,000 women in Coventry hit by the rising state pension age have suffered a ‘heartbreaking’ impact on their lives without an adequate safety net, campaigners say.
The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign group is pushing its message ahead of the general election on June 8.
It is calling for pension relief payments for women affected, those born on or after 6 April 1951.
The WASPI campaign wants compensation for those losing out under changes to the state pension age, which is set to rise from 60 to 65 in 2018 – two years earlier than planned.
The campaign claims more than three million women stopped work at 60 but later discovered without adequate notice that the retirement age had been raised.
Cheryl Sloan of WASPI in Coventry, said: “We are not against State Pension Age Equalisation, we are protesting at the manner in which these pension reforms have been implemented hitting a specific cohort of women, those born in the 1950s, particularly hard and unfairly.
“The 1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts have caused me, indignity, anxiety and despair.
“This is because the Government failed to notify me until January 2012, seventeen years after the 1995 Act.
“I have lost over £40,000 in state pension and it is far too late in my working life to do anything to compensate for this loss.
“Although I have well over the required NI contributions, I have been robbed of my pension, I must wait a further five years.
“My husband and I now survive off his pension alone and I mean survive. Our life is spent struggling and juggling our finances.
“We are considering moving, we do not want to do this, this is our home and we have lived here for thirty-five years but we can’t afford the upkeep of our property, we have spent our savings on day to day living.”
“But I consider myself lucky, I have a husband who has a pension, many of these women are alone, divorced, single even widowed, they have nothing, there is no safety net.
“They have one option, that of signing on for Job seekers and the regime which comes with it, why should we have to suffer that indignity at our age, we have worked hard all our lives, we’ve paid our dues, the government should pay out.”
Labour candidates Geoffrey Robinson, Jim Cunningham and Colleen Fletcher say they have ‘pledged’ their support for the WASPI women’s call.
Labour says it plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women.
Mr Robinson, Coventry North west Labour candidate, said: “The stories from the women affected by the rise in the pension age are truly heartbreaking.
“These women have worked all their lives, paying into the state pot, only to then find out the rules have been changed. They have been very badly let down.”
Coventry South candidate Mr Cunningham said: “I have supported this campaign for a long while now and if re-elected, I will continue to work with a cross-section of colleagues in Parliament to push for proper and adequate transitional arrangements for women affected by these changes.”
Mrs Fletcher said: “It is vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women in Coventry and across the UK, who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.”
For more information on WASPI in Coventry or to join in the calls, contact Mrs Sloan on 07760 441 943 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.Waspi.co.uk