Waveney campaign group’s protest at state pension age increase
- Credit: Archant
Women took to the streets to protest against an increase in state pension age which has left many financially unprepared for retirement and facing hardship.
The Waveney Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group manned a stall in Lowestoft town centre during a national day of action to gather support for the WASPI campaign.
They are calling for transitional arrangements to be put in place for women born in the 1950s who are affected by the 1995 Conservative government's pension act, which included plans to increase women's state pension age to 65 - the same as men's.
But although the WASPI campaigners say they agree with the changes, they say weren't informed and have been given no time to plan financially.
They also argue the staggered way the change is being brought in is unfair because a one year difference in birthday can lead to a three year difference in retirement age.
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Sandra Peary, 61, a member of the Waveney WASPI group, will receive a state pension at age 66 and didn't find out about the increase until she was in her late 50s.
She said: 'As somebody who has worked since 15, I am already physically and emotionally exhausted. When I first found out it made me depressed, I had sleepless nights and I was angry and frustrated.
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'Not only have I worked full time since I was 15, I have brought up a family, I always worked, even when the children were young. I cared for a terminally ill mother-in-law and terminally ill father for five years and I am still working now even though I am exhausted.'
Mrs Peary said, had she been informed of the changes in 1995, she would have had time to take out a larger private pension to enable her to retire at 60 as expected.
Jennifer Hinton, 63, a former Waveney District Councillor, said she discovered at 60 that she would not receive her pension until she was 64 and three quarters and now had to rely on her husband for money. While manning the stall in Lowestoft, she said she had spoken to a number of women who even now did not know about the change to the state pension age.
A petition, calling for an interim benefit to be paid to affected women until they reach retirement age, has been launched and the Waveney WASPI group collected 200 signatures during their day of action.
They expect to have more than a thousand by the time it is handed to parliament by Waveney MP Peter Aldous next month.
Mr Aldous is one of several MPs backing the WASPI campaign and has written to 990 women in Waveney affected by the pension age changes.
Mark Bee, a Suffolk county and Waveney district councillor, said county councillors had agreed to lobby the government on behalf of the WASPI campaigners and the same issue was due to be discussed district councillors this week.
Visit www.waspi.co.uk for more details.