Waspi pressures Gauke for bridging pension

Waspi pressures Gauke for bridging pension

Waspi campaigners have called upon new secretary of state David Gauke to commit to implementing a bridging pension to help women affected by the rise in the state pension age.

In a letter delivered to Mr Gauke, who became secretary of state for pensions on 12 June following a cabinet reshuffle, the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign group invited him to "fight this injustice together".

The letter, seen by FTAdviser, stated: "Waspi would like to see the government commit to implementing a 'bridging' pension to provide an income from age 60 until state pension age (SPA) for all women affected."

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According to the letter, the fact a number of Conservative MPs had made pledges during the election campaign to work to find a solution in parliament for the Waspi women, has given the campaign group hope "we can take forward these discussions as a matter of urgency".

In the letter, written by Jane Cowley on behalf of the Waspi Management Board, the group also invited Mr Gauke to respond and discuss the situation further.

Ms Cowley said: "We are keen to work directly with your department to consider how best to achieve this.

"Our campaign is about fairness and justice for all women, regardless of their background and financial situation. We would like to fight this injustice together."

The campaign started as a result of failures of communication on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions to inform women back in 1995 that the SPA was set to rise. 

Even in 2011, with the new Pensions Act, information about the change was not disseminated, meaning many women had not made enough provision to compensate for the unexpected gap between the age at which they actually retired, and the new, higher, date at which the state would start paying their expected pension entitlements.

To date, the Waspi campaign represents approximately 3.5m women who, according to Ms Cowley, "are suffering from huge financial difficulties".

However, several men have also been caught out by the changes to SPA, which means many of them will also have to work longer before they can retire. According to them, Waspi's campaign does little to help other people who have been left at the mercy of various Pensions Acts.

One adviser, Philip Milton, founder of Devon-based PJ Milton, commented: "It is wrong for them to believe they have some special entitlement.

"I shall have been working 52 years paying national insurance before I qualify for my state pension - if there is one where when I arrive."

It seems the DWP will not budge on its existing plans over transitional arrangements.

A spokesman for the DWP said: "The decision to equalise the State Pension age between men and women was made over 20 years ago and achieves a long-overdue move towards gender equality. There are no plans to change the transitional arrangements already in place.