Department for Work & Pensions  

Firing Line: Anne Keen

Firing Line: Anne Keen

Public awareness of pensions has gone through the roof in recent years, with many now aware of pension freedoms.

But another issue is forcing its way on to the agenda, which is getting people's blood up in another way: the communication of the changes to the state pension age for women who were just about to retire.

So poorly was this change apparently communicated that a campaign group was formed – Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) – that has succeeded in getting the consequences of DWP tardiness into the public domain, and raised a fighting fund of £84,300, to investigate the government and see if legal action could be taken.

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Anne Keen, who had been planning to retire in 2013, is one of the co-founders and a spokeswoman for the campaign.

She said: >"There are women out there who have lost £48,000 from their retirement fund.

"In an ideal world we should be getting everything we've been [told], but at least some form of financial recognition that will compensate for the monies already lost."

The problem is that many women born in the early 1950s had planned to retire at the age of 60, but were only told a few years before retirement that their pension age had moved on another few years.

"People's retirement dreams have been shattered," said Mrs Keen. "I've lost my savings for my retirement, because I did finish work in 2013, as I planned to. I thought the government would do something about this, but my savings have gone.

"Women have been forced to sell their homes to survive, and some women have been forced to face the indignity and humiliation to sign on and claim Jobseekers' Allowance – they send you out on workplace programmes."

The problems date back to the mid-1990s when the State Pension Age was equalised for all people to 65, which meant women's SPA went up from 60 to 65. This was expected to be phased in between 2010 and 2020.

Then in 2007 the SPA was raised from 65 to 68, a process to be phased in from 2024 to 2046. This was accelerated in 2011, so that equalisation at 65 was brought forward to 2018, and the rise to 66 brought forward to 2020.

Mrs Keen said: "I was informed in 2012 about the increase to my state pension age, retiring in 2017. That was 13 months before I expected to retire at 60, and I had not been informed otherwise. 

"The only letter I had received before then from the DWP was in 2005  and it was a state pension forecast. All it said in that letter was, 'based on today's rates you will receive X amount in your retirement age'. It didn't say anywhere in that letter that my retirement age had increased also."

Incensed at having to rely on her savings, Mrs Keen formed an initial campaign group called Reverse the State Pension Law, based on the issue of the 1995 Act, as she was unaware of the change. This put her in touch with other women who were also affected and, with four others, she founded Waspi in 2015 – on the advice of a PR expert who said they needed a catchy name.