State Pension  

Fight for compensation goes on

Fight for compensation goes on

The decision by the High Court to dismiss the women’s state pension age challenge has not dulled the fervour of those campaigning for compensation

The case has also shone a bright light on the pensions gender gap and the actions that women should be taking to protect themselves in retirement.

On October 3 the High Court rejected claims brought by members of campaign group BackTo60 that the increase in the state pension age affecting women born in the 1950s was discriminatory. Lawyers for the claimants said raising the state pension age discriminated against women born after 1950 on the grounds of their age, and also put women “at a particular disadvantage to men”.

Michael Mansfield QC added that the claimants and many other women born in the 1950s were not told about the changes until shortly before their expected state pension age at 60, causing “significant detriments” to many of them.

Key points

  • The High Court rejected claims that the increase in the state pension age for women born in the 1950s was discriminatory
  • The PHSO is looking into the question of maladministration
  • Women need to plan for further potential changes to the state pension age

At the heart of the matter are changes that were made to the Pensions Act in 2011, which is reported to have affected 3.8m people. The government passed legislation in 1995 (part of the Pensions Act) to equalise the state pension age for men and women at 65. That meant that the state pension age would rise for women by five years.

In 2011 under changes to the act, women’s state pension age increased more quickly to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018. From December 2018, the state pension age for both men and women started to increase to reach 66 by October 2020.

In the 1995 act, any woman born between April 6 1954 and May 5 1954 was set to receive their pension on May 6 2018.

Under the changes, a woman born in the same period will have to wait an extra 18 months until November 6 2019 to receive her pension.

Since 2010 various campaign groups have emerged calling for the changes to be overturned. According to the campaigners, some of those worst affected have felt suicidal, while others have become homeless or have had to sell their properties to survive. 

False premises

BackTo60 accuses the government of deferring the state pension of women born in the 1950 under the false premise of equality and longevity. 

The group says: “As a result, thousands of women across the UK have had their retirement plans annihilated. Their mental and physical well being has been very negatively affected. Likewise, their family relationships have deteriorated so much so, that many have expressed the loss of their identities and self-esteem diminished.”

BackTo60 is calling for full restitution of pensions going back to the age of 60 for women affected. Joanne Welch, campaign director at BackTo60, says: “1950s women mainly stayed at home, had part-time jobs, looked after children, the elderly. Their income was supplemented by the main breadwinner –the man.”

“Let’s say at 58, a woman born in 1953 receives a letter to say your pension is going to be 18 months late, what could you do at that age to change your financial planning?”