Norfolk women in pensions march to invoke spirit of the suffragettes

The PAIN WASPI ladies are holding a march at Chapelfield Gardens

The PAIN WASPI ladies are holding a march at Chapelfield Gardens - Credit: Archant

A band of women hit by changes to their state pension age will invoke the spirit of the suffragettes during a protest in Norwich on Friday, September 16.

Women from the Pension Action in Norfolk (Pain) group, which is affiliated with the national Waspi campaign, will gather at the bandstand in Chapelfield Gardens at midday as they continue to raise the plight of women born in the 1950s who have been hit by the unexpected changes.

They want to see transitional changes brought in to help those who will have to wait an extra six years to retire after being given little or no notice by successive governments.

They will gather at the bandstand where they will be seen off by Mustard TV presenter Helen McDermott.

The women will commemorate the example set by the suffragette movement by symbolically chaining themselves to the bandstand.

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They will then march to Hay Hill to meet Norfolk MPs and share their experiences with others affected.

They will also be handing out free bananas, which were a luxury item 60 years ago.

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Pension Action in Norfolk was set up in February by Susan Bissmire, who was affected by the changes. It was one of the first local Waspi affiliated pension action groups established in the UK, and now has more than 400 members.

They group has been out in market squares raising awareness of the changes and they have been lobbying MPs for support.

What is the campaign all about?

What are the changes?

The Pensions Act 1995 provided for the state pension age for women to increase from 60 to 65 over a 10 year period from April 2010 to 2020, but the coalition government changed the law again in 2011 to accelerate the change meaning the state pension age goes up to 65 in November 2018.

What was the reason for doing this?

The reason was increases in life expectancy since the timetable was last revised.

It had initially intended that the equalised SPA would then rise to 66 by April 2020, but because of concerns about women born in March 1954 – who would see their SPA increase by as much as two years as a result – the government made a concession which effectively limited the maximum increase under the Act at 18 months compared to the timetable in existing legislation, at a cost to the Exchequer of £1.1 bn.

What is this campaign all about?

The women are not campaigning for the pension age to revert back to 60, but they argue for 'fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women'.

They argue that many women born in the 1950s have been hit particularly hard, with significant changes to their SPA imposed with a lack of appropriate notification.

Do they have support?

The Work and Pensions Select Committee, which looked at the issue, concluded that 'more could and should have been done' to communicate the changes, especially between 1995 and 2009.

It called on the government to 'explore the option of permitting a defined group of women who have been affected by state pension age changes to take early retirement, from a specified age, on an 'actuarially neutral basis'.

The issue has also been debated in Parliament on a number of occasions and an all Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women has been set up to 'hold the government to account on the issue of transitional arrangements to compensate 1950s women who are affected by changes to the state pension age and to campaign on issues around the state pension age.'

What does the government say?

It argues that the changes in the 2011 Act were debated at length and a clear decision was made by Parliament, Ministers say they have 'no plans to bring forward further concessions or changes'.

What do you think about the changes to the state pension age? Email, including your name and address.

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