Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

Christine Jardine stands up for WASPI women

by Ian Shires on 4 December, 2017

Women born in the 1950s face an unexpected wait of the best part of a decade before they can get their State Pension. When they started their working lives they would have expected to be able to retire at 60. Now they have to wait until they are 67. The principle of the age going up and being equal with men is not in question. That women have had such a steep and disproportionate rise without being properly informed by the Government is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These women were at the sharp end of the gender pay gap for their working lives so any occupational pension they have is likely to be less than a man in the same job. Now they are being disadvantaged in their retirement years too.

Liberal Democrat MPs Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd are co-sponsors of a Bill that aims to look at ways of putting this right. It’s due to get its second reading early next year.

In a Commons debate this week, Christine explained the impact of the changes on the 6000 women affected in her constituency and pointed out that failure to get this right may mean that MPs may have their retirement dates chosen for them earlier than they expected.

Christine proposed a successful motion in support of the Bill at Scottish Conference last month. During the debate on that motion, 86 year old Lorna told us how she is helping her daughter who is affected by the changes.

I am 86 years old, a fairly new member and a first time speaker. I am supporting this motion for a very personal reason. My dear adopted daughter was 59 on April 25th and so would have been unable to retire until she was 66. She loved her work with under-fives in a pre-school unit. Very popular with both children and staff. But sadly the job was becoming more and more difficult. I got a text message from her that told me she had reached the end of her tether. I looked at my finances, made some changes in my direct debits and standing orders and because I have a state pension and a headteacher’s pension, I was able to undertake her mortgage payments each month. On the first morning of her freedom she shed ten years. She is a new person with a new joy in life. A real ‘people person’ she is enjoying a College Psychology course and can spend more time choosing among many worthwhile things she can do.

Not all WASPI women are so lucky, as Christine described in her speech:

The changes to the state pension age affect women such as a constituent of mine who recently came to me to tell me that although she had planned for her retirement for almost 30 years, she now found herself having to do two part-time jobs just to remain solvent. This is a woman who had worked all her life, paid her national insurance and saved for her retirement, and she now works as a cleaner and, as a result, suffers from arthritis. Her life today is very different from the one she anticipated. That she finds herself in this situation is not her fault but is down to the Government’s mismanagement.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings

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