Pension activists take to double-decker bus to highlight cause
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Women hit by pension age changes used a double-decker bus to catch attention and raise awareness of their plight.
The Norfolk Broads - Pension Action in Norfolk (PAIN) group was in Norwich city centre on Monday, meeting at Chapelfield Gardens before taking to the top of the double-decker bus, which it had hired, to speak out.
The campaign, which began six years ago, centres on the increase to women's pension ages, which they say was introduced with little notice or support and is significantly impacting women.
In July, an ombudsman report highlighted failings in the way it was handled by the Department for Work and Pensions and found there had been maladministration.
Further stages of the process will assess whether an injustice was caused, and, if so, what recommendations, including potential compensation, the ombudsman would make to remedy it.
Lynn Nicholls, a leader of the group, said: "It's important we keep the pressure up until the final decision.
"[Monday] was really good because we made ourselves known in Norwich. It was nice because when we were parked up we had a few of the youngsters coming onto the bus, asking what it was for."
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She said, with limited support from the region's MPs, it was key to keep up awareness.
"The other problem we have is the ladies who are struggling on their own with benefits," she said. "The benefits stopped and pension payment isn't coming in, so they have nothing to live on."
And she said it was key they kept fighting for future generations.
"When we started we were fighting for ourselves, but as the years have gone by we are also fighting for those who follow us, our children and grandchildren," she said.
"Unless someone does something they will be working until they die."
It came as part of a national event, with some women campaigning outside the ongoing Conservative party conference in Manchester.
The group took to the double-decker bus to raise awareness of the issues, singing, shouting and chanting.
What is the background?
The WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign began in 2015, and has faced a long, uphill battle.
The 1995 Conservative government’s State Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 so that it was the same as men’s.
The Pensions Act 1995 agreed the state pension age for women would increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020, with the coalition government extending this to 66 in the 2011 Pensions Act.
The WASPI campaign does not disagree with the age being brought in line with men's, but says there was not enough notice or communication around the changes.
Because of the way the increases were brought in, women born in the 1950s (on or after April 6, 1950, to April 5, 1960) have been hit particularly hard.
Around 54,000 women in Norfolk are affected, and 3.8 million nationally.
Hundreds of thousands of women are now suffering financial hardship, with some relying on zero contract hours or government support to get by.