South Shields woman campaigns for fairer state pensions

Rosie Willoughby is raising awareness of the Waspi campaign.
Rosie Willoughby is raising awareness of the Waspi campaign.

A South Tynesider is calling on thousands of women in the borough to back a fight for fairer state pensions for those born, like her, in the early 1950s.

Rosie Willoughby says she has missed out on thousands of pounds because of a change in the system increasing the age at which women can access state pensions from 60 to 66.

There has been a total lack of communication from the government to those women

Wendy Eachus

The act was passed by the Government in 1995 to bring the age for women in line with that for men.

However, many women say they were not informed of the changes, and how they would be affected, until it was too late to make any alternative arrangements.

Campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) claims some were never told and left employment at 60 expecting to be able to draw their pensions.

The change has affected those in line for retirement after April 6, 2011.

Women bearing the brunt of the changes have joined forces to campaign for transitional payments to cover the shortfall between the age at which they believed they could draw a pension and the actual age at which they now can.

The 62-year-old, of South Shields, is one of the 300,000 women affected nationwide.

She said: “Information was passed on too late for many woman to make any alternative arrangements. One of them was me.

“There are a lot of women of my age who were unaware of the changes.

“I took voluntary redundancy believing I would be able to claim my pension. When I couldn’t, I was fortunate to find a part-time job.

Wendy Eachus, a campaigner for Waspi, said: “We are not against the pension age for women being the same as men.

“What we are campaigning for is for transitional payments for the women affected by this change, or some sort of compensation.

“The Government failed to give women adequate notice of the changes and how it would affect them.

“The whole process has been shambolic.

“People have given up jobs, taking early retirement, thinking they wouldn’t have to wait long for their pensions, and they are now absolutely devastated when they find out it’s not the case.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions was unavailable for comment.

For details, visit the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign Facebook page here.

Campaign group Waspi is calling on South Tynesiders to support its online petition.
The petition calls on the Government to bring in transitional pension arrangements for women affected by the change in payments.
In 1995, the Government brought the pension age for women in line with men, but the group claims thousands of women were left in the dark about the changes before they came into effect in April 2011.
The group says that prompted thousands of women to quit work at the age of 60 believing they would be able to draw a pension, out of pocket.
Waspi is an action group formed by five women affected by the changes to the state pension age and keen to do something to address what they claim is the injustice involved. The group does not want to undo the pension act of 1995, however.
You can
sign the online petition here.