State Pension age change has ‘catastrophic’ impact, Backto60 appeal hears

State Pension age change has ‘catastrophic’ impact, Backto60 appeal hears

State Pension age is currently undergoing a change, steadily increasing each year, however some have claimed the changes are unfair. Until 2010, the State Pension age stood at 60 for women and 65 for men. But there were changes that took place under the Pension Act 1995 and the Pension Act 2011, which led to a shift some say is most palpably felt by women. 

The verdict is expected in the coming days, in a move which is likely to have a significant impact on large numbers of women.

Speaking at the hearing today, Michael Mansfield QC said: “The impact on this cohort – they are bearing the brunt and shouldering the onerous situations that arise after the statues that come into force. It has been dramatic and I am not overestimating in my language. This has been catastrophic and their lives have been totally fractured having to face a situation of this kind.

“Besides the economic – almost poverty line – existence they have to face, it goes without saying that the psychological and mental stress placed upon them, has reduced many people to an inability to go and do what they need to do to make ends meet.”

He added that many women were not made aware of the changes to the State Pension age until one, two or three years before it was due to take effect. In many cases, while women did not mind failing to be consulted on the change, it was the lack of notice they took issue with. 

Henrietta Hill QC then raised points concerning age and sex discrimination over treatment of women over pension age rises. She has argued there is both direct and indirect discrimination according to age. 

She stated that women concerned in the case had expressed their concern that their pension would end up considerably lower than previous generations because of the change, and raised that many potentially faced poverty, homelessness and financial hardship. 

Ms Hill stated the case is not intended to discriminate against men, but instead to show how “badly” women have been treated as a result of the State Pension age change. 

The Master of the Rolls, however, at one point in the proceedings, stated he was “at sea” over part of the claim made concerning discrimination. 

Barrister Adam Straw, later went on to assert women born in the 1950s are likely to be in a worse socio-economic position to be able to take the hit of a raised State Pension age when compared to others. 

Similar campaign work has been undertaken by other groups who have championed women’s rights. 

Notably, the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group has worked to achieve “justice for all women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to State Pension age”.

It is worth noting that the WASPI Campaign is not against equalisation, but states it “does not accept the unfair way the changes to our SPA were implemented with inadequate or no notice”.

While the WASPI Campaign was not involved in the court case, the decision today is likely to have at least some bearing on their work going forward.

The Backto60 campaign desires repayment for the years of pension that women have potentially lost out on due to the changes in State Pension age. 

Joanne Welch, founder of the Backto60 campaign, previously told “Two Parliamentary Reports found 1950s women to be ‘grotesquely disadvantaged’ due to the stealth state pension age rises.

“How then can the government go to court and pretend otherwise, especially when the Leader of the Opposition and former Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, says that an injustice has been done and that he supports us. Boris made an undertaking, which we are holding him to.”

Commenting ahead of the appeal case today, Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell stated: “It cannot be doubted that many women have suffered serious hardship as a result of increases to the state pension age.

“The Court case also represents a serious risk to the Treasury, with the government has previously warned paying full restitution to the women affected would cost the taxpayer ‘in the region of £215billion’.”

Published at Tue, 21 Jul 2020 07:41:00 +0000