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A WOMAN from Melksham, along with three friends from Chippenham, are trying to raise awareness about the state pension age changes.
Lynda Bloomfield, from Meksham, along with Jenny Kelly, Val Garret and Lynne Pascal support Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) which is an action group campaigning against not only what it deems unfair changes to the state pension age for those born on or after 6th April 1951, but also how the changes have subsequently been implemented.
Lynda said, “We went to see Michelle Donelan MP to discuss this issue and were pleased to find that she was sympathetic to our cause.
“It cannot be fair to be suddenly told, after decades of believing we would receive our state pension at 60, that we will not now get it until we are 66. The first changes were made in 1995 but the Government did not write to any women affected by the rise in pension ages until 14 years later and then only to a specific group. It was in 2012 – 17 years later – that I received any notification from the Government.”
The WASPI campaign has made waves since its launch, with the campaign being featured in a number of national newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, The Independent and The Guardian, while it has also accrued support from hundreds of thousands of UK residents. The group’s Facebook page has 28,000 likes, while its petition to Parliament – which can be viewed here – has over 166,000 signatures, including 322 in this constituency.
WASPI, is calling for women (and men) to lobby parliament about the unfair treatment. Jenny says, “We are not asking for the world; we just want a fairer implementation of the new laws so that women born in the ‘50s will not have to wait six years longer than they had anticipated to receive their state pension. Many women approaching 60 are still not aware that they won’t receive their state pension at that age. For many, it will mean great hardship and we don’t think that is fair.”
“Historically,” says Lynne, “Women in our age group have not kicked up a fuss, even though we have experienced discrimination in the workplace over the years, so I think the government see us as an easy target. However, WASPI are determined to take this one all the way, to the Court of Human Rights if need be, but I would like to see the government putting this right before that.”
Val, who was unable to meet with the MP said, “Why should we be penalised so heavily? We have done all our financial planning around receiving our state pension at 60. Wouldn’t it be better to give the jobs, that we will now have to take until we are 66, to the young who are struggling to find work?
“I have spoken to many women of a similar age and was surprised that they were unaware of these changes and their financial circumstances and retirement plans have been shattered.”
Lynda continued, “Anyone needing to voice their grievances should go and see their MP and tell them how they have been affected. WASPI has produced information and a template letter that women, or anyone supporting the campaign, can hand to their MP.”