The #WASPI women

Women in the 1950s were told the compulsory retirement age was 60. They organised their lives, savings and pensions around that.

The government then changed the compulsory retirement age in 1995 and again in 2011 so women born on or after the 6/4/1951 had to continue to work to receive their pension until age 65. But the government forgot to tell many of these women about this change.

In fact now there is no compulsory retirement age. You can choose to resign at 65.

The effect of this original 1995 decision was that women born on or after 6/4/1951 lost out. For years most believed they would have to retire at age 60 and often told their employer as well. This means they may have ended their employment with 5 more years to go before they’d get their state pension. Effectively the government put some of these WASPI women into a terrible situation: jobless, pensionless and incomeless — for effectively ‘leaving a job’ which would result in an automatic 3 month sanction by the Jobcentre.

A few may have got back into their old job, some a new job and but often many remained unemployed or took casual work. Effectively they had lost out on about £6,000 income each year for 5 years compared to someone born just one day earlier.

The government have repeatedly quoted a figure of £39 billion to put this situation right — so they are reluctant to do this. But the tireless campaign of the WASPI women has only just began. They have already had 3 parliamentary sessions dedicated to their plight. The government remain adamant not to meet their needs. In the end the WASPI campaign may end up in court — but with the level of support from the general public it would be an expensive route for the government — who might eventually end up paying £39 billion not a lower compromise amount they could agree earlier. The result of taking on the WASPI women will also end badly for them in terms of votes in a general election. The Tory government have always relied on pensioners as their core vote — having 100,000s of pensioners against them will not win an election.

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