BackTo60, a group supporting women affected by an increase in the state pension age, is making a formal complaint against a group of MPs, as they consider an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) vote on transitional arrangements to be “wholly invalid”.
The APPG on State Pension Inequality for Women, led by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, announced last month the proposals it will include in its private members’ Bill, which is tabled to be discussed in Parliament on 15 June.
The goal is to get the government to review pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s who have or will be financial disadvantaged by changes to equalise the state pension age between men and women, and consider costings for three solutions.
However, BackTo60, a movement which claims 723,500 supporters, has said the vote on these proposals, which occurred at a meeting last month, is illegal since non-MPs cannot vote in APPGs.
“The so called ‘almost unanimous’ vote is wholly invalid and must not feed into the Second Reading of the Bill as representative,” the group said on Twitter.
Joanne Welch, one of the representatives of BackTo60, said the group has been invited by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to submit its formal complaint about this matter.
She added: “We understand that during the Inquiry, the matter should not be discussed: we are in the throes of the decision.”
According to the recently published meeting minutes, after Ms Harris closed the meeting, one of the group members present suggested that all representatives present should indicate, by a show of hands, whether they supported the proposals.
Ms Harris and MP Tim Loughton noted the unanimous support for the proposals and announced that they would report this back to the APPG and proceed with the second reading of the Bill accordingly.
There was no objection to this statement.
Ms Welch, who was present at the event as a representative of BackTo60, had in the meantime left the meeting.
According to the minutes, Ms Welch began passing notes to other group representatives who had spoken.
She then asked Ms Harris to read a note that she had passed to her, which she refused, but offered Ms Welch the opportunity to read the note herself.
Ms Welch suggested that the consultation had been biased but was assured by Ms Harris and Mr Loughton that it had not been.
At this point, Ms Welch became disruptive and refused to listen to the response from the MPs, and was therefore asked to leave the meeting.
Backto60 stands with other campaign groups, such as Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi), which stand against inequality and unfair treatment of women born in the 1950s who have experienced changes to their state pension age.
The groups claim that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.
The movements also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.