Waspi women need more help to cope with pension changes, says MP

Women fighting for a fairer pension deal after changes to the age at which they can retire have welcomed the support of a South Tyneside MP.

Tuesday, 5th June 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th June 2018, 11:42 am
Stephen Hepburn MP backing the campaign for a fairer pension deal for women born in the 1950s

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn says the government is trying to “brush the issue under the carpet” after millions of women were affected by the change in retirement age from 60 to 65.

He says a lack of communication and the way the changes were handled left little time to re-plan their retirement - leaving many in severe financial hardship.

WASPI campaigners, left to right, Janet Green, Lorraine Scott, Christine Smith and Pat Heron.

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It is thought around 4,000 women in the Jarrow constituency and 8,000 around in South Tyneside have been affected.

Mr Hepburn called for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to carry out an assessment of the effect of changes to the state pension age on those women - which was declined.

He said: “The Minister’s response is very disappointing.

“It is clear they are trying brush this issue under the carpet and silence the 4,000 women in the Jarrow constituency who have been affected by this unfairness.

“Women have been robbed, stolen of the thoughts of a happy retirement by a Tory government who are more willing to give a £1billion bung to the DUP in order to save their necks in government than to look after people who’ve worked a lifetime just to be happy in retirement.

“Those affected feel victimised due to the Government’s lack of action – some of those affected have had to turn to foodbanks and are facing real hardship.

Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaigner Christine Smith said: “Stephen Hepburn is a staunch campaigner, along with the other Labour MPs from the region,

“We have the biggest movement since the suffragettes against what has happened - and we are not going to go away. We are not here to pay off the national debt.

“There was no assessments made on the impact the changes would have.

“There was not a lot of equality in the workplace in the 1950s and we also had the small stamp which didn’t count towards our national contributions - we weren’t even allowed to join company pension schemes until 1976.

“Doing what they have done has left a lot of women in dire straits, being forced to use food banks and selling their family homes to survive.

“We are not just fighting for us, but for all women, because if they have done it once they can do it again.”