Simon Read: 'Women born in the 1950s are getting a raw deal in retirement'

Inequality has built up because of changes to the state pension retirement age

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The Independent Online

If you were born in the 1950s and are female, you could be facing a much worse retirement that you hoped for. That's the fear of people fighting to redress an inequality that has built up because of the changes to the state pension retirement age.

Marion Smulders, a campaigner from the group Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi), got in touch with me after the appointment of the new pensions minister, Ros Altmann. "In the past, Ros has supported women born in the 1950s who are being denied their state pension rights," she told me. "[I hope] that the new minister will continue to fight unfair and discriminatory changes imposed on women born in the 1950s."

The problems grew through a mix of the acceleration in the increase in the state pension age and the lack of sufficient notice given to women so they could replan for their retirement.

"It has left many 1950s women in financial hardship," warned Anne Keen, another Waspi campaigner. "Many were not allowed to join private pension schemes, or had retired early to care for relatives or because of personal illness. The state pension is their only source of income."

She pointed out that privileged people – MPs, judges, civil servants – have had their occupational pensions protected if they're within 10 years of the normal retirement age. "So why are women not being given the same protection?" Ms Keen asked.

Looking ahead, 10 years' notice will be given for any future changes to the state pension age to help people cope with the change in their circumstances. "So why are we being treated differently?" Ms Smulders asked. When outside the Government, Dr Altmann was supportive of the campaign. Will that change now?

She takes her seat in the House of Lords on Monday and said this week: "I am not going to rush in and try to impose all my past thoughts. I'm going to listen, stay cool and calm, as there are many sensitive issues which need handling carefully. But my work has always been focused on helping people, and it's not going to stop now."

Meanwhile, if you'd like to add your support to the campaign, there's an online petition at

twitter: @simonnread

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