We won’t budge on state pension delay, says minister
‘Fearless’ campaigners have had their hopes of redress dashed, says Richard Dyson
Of all the challenges faced by the new minister for pensions, an army of several hundred thousand angry middle-aged women is perhaps the most formidable. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Richard Harrington said he had spent much of the summer holiday swotting up on Britain’s hugely complex pension system. He was appointed just before the recess, and the time off was “very useful”, he said.
Some of his reading time was devoted to the difficulties faced by an increasingly vociferous and organised group: Women Against State Pension Inequality – the “Waspis”.
These are women born on or after April 6 1951, who, thanks to successive changes to the age at which the state pension is payable, have to wait for up to six years longer for their pensions than they had expected (see box).
Their main grievance is that they weren’t given sufficient warning of the change – if they had any at all.
Now, as Mr Harrington settles into his new office, the Waspis are ramping up their campaign, with large numbers of women born in the Fifties still discovering they will have to wait longer than they expected for their money.
Claiming the support of more than 120 MPs across the party spectrum, the Waspis’ campaigning has so far triggered four parliamentary debates on their situation. More than 190,000 people have signed the Waspi petition. MPs – supportive or not – variously describe the campaigners as “formidable”, “fearless” and “terrifying”.
What they are demanding is a “bridging pension” that would fill the gap between their anticipated pension age of 60 and the later date at which
A protester with a Waspi placard at a Jeremy Corbyn rally during the Labour Party leadership campaign earlier this month