Bute woman takes Westminster to task

WASPI campaigner, Margaret Shields, with Argyll and Bute MP, Brendan O'Hara.
WASPI campaigner, Margaret Shields, with Argyll and Bute MP, Brendan O'Hara.

A local woman attended the Women Against State Pension Inequality demonstration at Westminster on Wednesday last week.

Margaret Shields was one of more than 2,500 women who attended the protest in London.

The WASPI campaign, as we reported in last week’s Buteman, was mobilised last year after more women born in the 1950s discovered they would have to wait longer for their state pension.

It’s the result of pensions legislation changing over the years, bringing the age at which mena dn women into line and taking account of longer life expectancies.

But it is not the equal playing field women are quibbling with, it’s the lack of notice.

At least two million women have had their pension age delayed, meaning some will be 66 before they get their pension - after expecting it at 60.

Margaret, who also sang in the protest choir, told us: “We fully support the need for equalisation of retirement ages for men and women.

“The issue is the transition and the shambolic way that the government and DWP have dealt with us. Following the 1995 act the DWP did not write to women born in the fifties to tell them about their new retirement age until 2004, some fourteen years after the act. This gave them very little time for a lot of them to plan their retirement funds, some did not find out until just before their 60th birthday

“In 2012 the DWP then informed women of a further increase following the 2011 act adding up to a further 18 months to their retirement age.

“For those women affected who were contracted in to the government additional pension SERPS will have suffered a loss of some £50,000 in pension payments by the time they finally retire. I am one of them.

“The new Flat Rate Pension which has just been introduced is supposed to be more generous to pensioners. It has been reported that people have been mislead into thinking that they will get £155 per week. In fact very few women will receive that figure. Most (depending on circumstances) will receive just £8 more than the old payment scheme.

“We are fighting for justice and want the government to right the situation by introducing fair transitional payments to the women of the fifties who have been unfairly treated by their implementation of the two acts.”

The demonstration was watched by 60 MPs, including Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara who supports the campaign.