It was good to see the recent story in the Journal (February 17) about a group of women fighting back against the Government’s despicable changes to state retirement age.
The group, known as WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – campaign against “injustice done to all women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to the State Pension Law (1995/2011 Acts)”. It’s a modest ambition, because the real injustice is considerably greater, affecting men as well, and anyone else born since the 1950s too.
If you are a woman born in the 1950s the chances that the Government might steal anything up to around £40,000 from you is pretty high. This is because most women in that group paid National Insurance through most of their working lives on the understanding that they could retire at 60, then automatically receive a state retirement pension.
But in 1995 the Tories passed a despicable piece of sexist legislation that particularly attacked women, suddenly moving the age at which they could retire from 60 to 65 – and instead of applying it from that date on, they applied it retrospectively, to women born 40 years earlier! That was obviously bad enough, but the treacherous Blair/Brown governments which followed – supposedly worker-friendly Labour governments who should have scrapped the monstrous law – made things even worse and moved qualifying ages, for men and women alike, even further away.
The supposed justification for the Government’s action is repetition of the same old broken record they’ve been using for the last 40 years: there’s no money. But somehow money can always be found to pay for endless illegal wars, squandering on zombie banks, or subsidising corrupt tax-dodging trans-national corporations.
Government mismanagement of state pensions is similar to their mismanagement of our NHS – and every other public service too. They could easily pay for them all – if they wanted to. Not doing so is a political choice, not economic necessity. There’s no need to increase state retirement age. In fact, everyone could and should be able to retire at age s60, if they wanted to.
The WASPI cause is a fine place to start, and everyone should support it – young and old alike, male and female; but it should be no more than the opening phase of a much longer struggle: to win the right for anyone to retire on a full state pension at age 60.
John Andrews, Marratts Lane, Gt Gonerby