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WASPI – the campaign continues

61 Comments

Anne Keen, co-founder of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), explains what they’re campaigning for – and what you can do to support them.

WASPI is campaigning for fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s’ women.Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is campaigning for fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s’ women.  

We believe that “women born on or after 6 April 1951 have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to State Pension Age.

“Hundreds of thousands of women have had significant changes imposed on them with a lack of appropriate notification.” 

This is the wording of the petition and encapsulates what we are about. When the petition closed in April it had achieved 193,186 signatures. 

This is just a fraction of the women affected, because many women are not online and are therefore difficult to reach; others are still unaware of the increase in State Pension age despite WASPI’s best efforts. 

What we have achieved so far

We have achieved a lot in the campaign from our humble beginnings of five ordinary women emailing each other just over a year ago. 

Our name is now well known in parliament and we have raised awareness of the issue. 

Our petition generated nearly 194,000 signatures, leading to four parliamentary debates on the issue. 

We have won cross-party support for our cause, with an APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) recently being formed – over 120 MPs signed up on the day, including Conservatives. 

We attended a Work & Pensions Select Committee hearing to give evidence on the campaign and have seen many local groups come together to help spread the message in their regions. 

Next Steps

We are now planning our next steps in the campaign.  

Our next main event is Demonstration and we would invite all women and their supporters to join us on the College Green at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 29 June from 12 noon. 

This Demonstration will be followed by a lobbying of parliament.

What can you do to help?

To support the campaign you could write to your MP inviting them to the lobbying on 29 June, requesting that they join the APPG, or tell them how the increase in State Pension age has affected you and perhaps also request a meeting.
 
If you don’t know who your MP is you can find out on WriteToThem – simply enter your post code and it will give you the name of your MP and a headed letter ready for you to write your letter. The site also chases up a response from your MP. 

You can also continue to support WASPI by liking the WASPI Facebook page and checking out our new WASPI website

This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.

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Comments

Reads just like an advert for WASPI and overlooks the fact that their last Ask (which to my knowledge has NOT been withdrawn) would give every 1950s born woman a State Pension at 60 - a full six years before Men irrespective of means. This piece also overlooks (conveniently) the fact that the last WASPI Ask would cost £77Bn up to 2020 which equates to around £12pw for EVERY working adult in the UK. The WASPI campaign thinks little about anyone other than those Women born in the 50s and whilst I have some sympathy for the poorer ones (who coincidentally would also have been the less informed of the changes) WASPI have already stated on record that they are against Means Testing - you have to wonder why, when an income based support system would help the people whose case studies are so often used by WASPI to promote the campaign. Would it be fair for an affluent 60 Yr old Woman to draw a State Pension at 60 whilst a Man on JSA waits a further 6 Yrs - the notion is ludicrous.
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Many 1950s women, myself included, do not support the WASPI campaign as they don't believe it is fair to ask the working population to raise additional money, in the region of £77 billion by 2020, for what appears to be in the main comfortably-off and fit, Zumba-dancing women who often, by their own description of themselves like good food, fine wine and fast cars. If the campaign had focussed from the start exclusively on those in need, they would no doubt have got more sympathy than they did. WASPI have also chosen an arbitrary end date to the cohort they are campaigning for, thereby creating the ludicrous situation that a woman born on 1 January 1960 would receive her state pension a full 6 years after a woman born on 31 December 1959. Although there is a lot to criticise about the 2011 Pensions Act, the law at least implements the changes somewhat gradually.
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Lin Phillips, another of the co-founders, is on record saying most WASPI would not be eligible for benefits. It's all the more difficult to understand then than WASPI are so proud of some MPs that are supporting their campaign. WASPI omit to mention that at least 27 of the MPs in the APPG did actually vote for ESA cuts - yet those same MPs are now praised by WASPI as beacons of decency. It is very hard to understand how these comfortably-off women could be supportive of ESA cuts for the sick and disabled whilst at the same time demanding state pension payments before they reached their state pension age.
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#3 Everything you say is right Suzy - what I find most frustrating is the WASPI groups unwillingness to prioritise genuine Women who through no fault of their own are struggling. There is a real problem in the UK with Age Discrimination affecting older job seekers and there are some manual jobs that are not suitable for a 66 year old Women (or Man for that matter) to be doing. There are options that have already been suggested by MPs and I would like to see a proper poll of WASPI supporters (and all 50s Women) to see what they think of them.
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Sad to see people willing to leave other people with 6 years of no income to fill. I found out my State retirement age as 61.5 when I got cancer at 48 yrs. After 7 yrs of treatment while working, paying full NI I was made redundant at 56. Not knowing if I would make 61 I cashed in small pensions etc - I don't claim benefit because I was brought up not to. At 58 the DWP finally wrote to me and told me no pension till 65 and 7mths. I had already made my money last for 2 years. YOU try surviving that financially! I am still alive at 62 but wonder if I will ever receive a pension.Meanwhile the NI fund is in massive surplus - so much every year that the Government Actuary's Report on the Fund published in January, shows a rising SURPLUS (after paying that years pensions/NHS) to £46.299billion by April 2020 - we do not need other peoples money - just our own! It is being hoarded to lend money to the rest of Government at low rates and fill that 2019 hole in Government finances.Now back off
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#4 The NI fund is not in a massive surplus. That is complete nonsense. There was a £14.2bn subsidy from general taxation in the last two years in order to keep it above the statutory minimum based on outgoing payments. Any projections to 2020 are based on highly elastic assumptions that are quickly out of date.
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WASPI does not ask for backdating to Pension age 60. It is asking for better transitional arrangements. The other comments are misleading the readers. WASPI has rejected that claim again and again.
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#5 This is the Ask that has not, to my knowledge, been withdrawn "WASPI ask the Government to put all Women born in the 50s, or after 6th April 1951 and affected by the changes to the state pension age in the same financial position they would have been in had they been born women on or before 5th April 1950" - I am not misleading anyone however WASPI supporters do seem to have selective memories.
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#5 Not misleading in any way. The ask as stated by Hornet's Nest is exactly as given by Waspi founders in evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee. If this is no longer the campaign aim, then they should publicly retract it rather than claiming that their "detractors" are misrepresenting the campaign. Instead of doing so, they have rejected sensible suggestions like any of Owen Smith's six proposals, and ruled out any means tested support or focus on the 2011 Act. All the while, they have conspicuously refused to clarify what "fair transitional arrangements" look like.
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#5.2 seanmosely What you say is spot on and it's what some people have been telling WASPI for months. They either refuse to take on board good advice when it is offered or simply do not understand the consequences of their current course of action, particularly for those Women who are suffering hardship. It seems to me, and many others, that WASPI are happy to gamble everything to in the hope that all 50s Women will receive an early State Pension (subsidised by the working people of the UK) - the genuine case studies I'm afraid are just not worth prioritising - all very sad.
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I am 58 and happy to work another couple of years but not 9! I am not rich or drive a fast car or take zumba classes, as some of you seem to imagine all us 50 something ladies do. I've had cancer and am not in good health. To find out BY CHANCE that I had to work another 7 years is daunting. There is an NI surplus being used by this Government to fund other departments and it will only grow with 100's of thousands of women working until they are nearing 70. We have paid in over 40 years worth of contributions to what was supposed to be our retirement fund. That was the contract. Because our Government has not looked after our money we are now suffering. That's what we were always told, and because we don't read the Financial Times they are surprised we didn't know. Be aware your inflammatory comments are distressing to women who are in real financial hardship now relying on paltry handouts that they have probably never had to ask for before.
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#6 Sympathise with your situation (genuinely), but myths like these do not help the Waspi cause. The NI fund is not in a "massive surplus" - this is a severe misunderstanding by the lady who submitted that to the Work and Pensions Committee. The NI fund is not pay as you go, and most people will take out far more than they ever put in. Coverage of the 1995 Act was not limited to the Financial pages - Jo Cumbo found hundreds of articles across a range of media. The basic objection - lack of notice given in 2011 - is more than valid in its own right and this is what should be focused on. There is no real justification for the lack of notice given to men and women in 2011, and I'm sure the vast majority of the public would support a campaign that concentrated on this.
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The government will not change their mind, the campaign gives them the fuel to keep saying no. The majority of women appear to zumba,sing,take holidays abroad, drive, own their own homes, travel to London, buy Tshirts, sashes and banners. That impression is one of financially secure, married women with time, resources and health to keep working or just simply wait, for their State Pension. Labour may support them when not in power but they changed nothing when in power did they? Waspi have walked into Labours hands and given them a platform to knock the Conservatives. Help the unemployed men and women, over 60. Those who have ill health, promote and assist the needy.
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I was born in May 1954 (female) .We were told to plan for our pensions and thought we had but it was taken away from us and the nearer we got to it the further it was moved away.
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The WASPI campaign has done much to highlight the issues around the rise in women's SPA. In some cases the increase is 6 years; not just 18 months as per Govt rhetoric. Some women undoubtedly did not find out about that until late in the day. Let's hope that there will be more publicity from DWP in the future as more rises in SPA will be coming. For those with non-manual jobs continuing to work until 66 is not doubt feasible. For many people though that is not the case. There are women (and men) over 60 who are in hardship and at the mercy of a vicious sanctions regime. All of their lives women have been thinking they'd draw SP at 60 and they cut their cloth to suit. I really wish that the people who appear to enjoy criticising the founders of the WASPI campaign would stop and think about the impact of these SPA rises on many. It's noticeable that those who criticise the founders never seem to come up with any constructive suggestions.
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#11 Constructive suggestion - means tested minimum income safety net for all women and men affected by rises in state pension age due to the 2011 Pension Act. The cost of this would be around 1% of that of the Waspi Campaign ask.
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#11.1 Oh I like constructive. It's worthy of serious consideration in my view. Can you expand a little on how you envisage this could work? For example, where does the means test threshold lie? How would it impact those with, say, a very modest savings pot or who own a property but have no income? Interested in how you think it would work please.
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#11.1 Oh I like constructive. It's worthy of serious consideration in my view. Can you expand a little on how you envisage this could work? For example, where does the means test threshold lie? How would it impact those with, say, a very modest savings pot or who own a property but have no income? Interested in how you think it would work please.
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#11 What constructive suggestions have the Waspi founders come up with? All we have is the infamous £77bn+ "ask", and "fair transitional arrangements" which is so vague as to be completely meaningless.
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#11.2 I haven't seen any concrete suggestions from WASPI. Mind you, I am not sure that "ordinary" (their descriptor not mine) people necessarily have the actuarial acumen to make/cost viable suggestions? It's why people with those skills can help in that regard. So much better than those who continually carp and attack individuals - that serves no constructive purpose at all as far as I can see.
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#11.2.1 That may have been somewhat valid at the start of the campaign, but we’re now several months and 4 parliamentary debates down the line. Many people have offered to help the founders with costings, but have been ignored. Please also consider that 13 options were considered and costed during the passage of the 2011 Act, Labour have provided 6 costed suggestions earlier this year, and Ros Altmann requested costings on 3 options. The “big ask” has been costed, as has revoking the 2011 Act. There is more than enough information out there to work out realistic campaign aims, but Waspi (and their supportive MPs) continue to dodge the issue. I suspect I know the reasons for this, but it’s probably one for supporters to work out themselves (as many are already doing).
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#11.2.1.1 In terms of costings it's not actually that difficult to come up with a figure which has a reasonable + or - %, mine was £113Bn in TOTAL and I still think that is a conservative estimate for the full WASPI Ask. What I couldn't do was deduct the benefits (JSA etc) that would be saved as I do not know them.
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#11.2.1.1.1 Agreed that £77bn is an under-estimate, which was acknowledged when it was costed. It didn't take into account for example loss of tax/NI revenue, or any payments to men required to ensure equality. It also assumed that a 6 year cliff-face applies to 1960s women, which is obviously ludicrous and would never see the light of day. The figure is really there to show how absurd and unaffordable the request is, rather than being a realistic cost proposal imo.
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#11.2.1.1 okay ..... so there are suggestions out there. Some from sources more credible (and, importantly, identifiable not hidden behind "shell" pages on Facebook and Twitter) than others. Here are more issues for WASPI co-founders:- How do they decide which solution is best? Will one solution work for all (especially for those most in need)? Running a successful awareness raising campaign doesn't give you a mandate to choose one option to pursue over another.
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#11.2.1.1.2 Rightly or wrongly the Waspi founders seem to have become the de facto spokespeople for 1950s women, at least in the eyes of their supportive MPs. Owen Smith proposed 6 options earlier in the year, which individually or as part of a package would have helped the women worst affected. The Waspi founders informed Smith that they did not think any of the options were suitable, and Labour promptly stopped talking about them and went back to pretending that there are no costed options out there. The conundrum is that any realistic proposal (in terms of cost) will exclude a large number of women, thus alienating and diluting much of the support. There is also the issue that as much as Waspi want to campaign for 1950s women in isolation, legally policy can’t arbitrarily ringfence a cohort in this way. Sooner or later, to move things forward someone has got to make a divide and upset some people, and it’s probably time for supporters to be taking matters into their own hands.
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For the third time, I will post my comment. I cannot understand why it keeps disappearing as it is not offensive nor inaccurate How patronising that earlier comments take no account of the facts that this generation of women was 'grotesquely disadvantaged' by receiving no/little notice of pension changes. A generation of women who generally received less pay than their male counterparts, had to pay for childcare, had divorce settlements based on receiving pension at sixty and were unable to contribute to works pensions in many instances. If a minority are able to drive fast cars etc, good luck to them. The Waspi Campaign has given hope to thousands of women who would otherwise be feeling alone in very challenging situations. The constant worry of wondering if the next bill will be bigger than the last is something that only those who live it can appreciate. The Waspi Campaign opened the eyes and ears of the politicians to this injustice. I thank them for it.
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It is sad to see comments from people that do not have any idea of women's/men's circumstances are should feel that they can comment so freely. The Government have chose women to use for their Austerity money saving exercise, using firstly the excuse that it was EU regulation and then people are living longer. If you live in the South and more affluent areas you most probably do live longer, but people living in Glasgow and some parts of Scotland and the North may tell you otherwise. The Government States the EU demands equalisation, which is right men and women should have equality, but looking in the past it wasn't the case. Women did not have the same rights as men, women couldn't build up their pension in their own right, women took on the childcare responsibilities, women worked part-time, women looked after both sets of parent if married, women have not had equality. When judges settled divorce cases until quite recently, they awarded presuming the women retired at 60. If women
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#13 The correct place to address these issues is via the Cridland review, rather than demanding compensation for all 1950s women regardless of circumstance (which is what Waspi are doing)
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Mass deception. A lie all your working life, and you only find out you've been cheated on when you are within spitting distance of 60. It's a type of 'bigamy' - you are in a relationship with the State who is working on a different agenda to the one you signed up for. Or , from the age of 15 I was told the game was Ludo, then when I got to 57 I was told I was actually playing snakes and ladders, and boy did we meet a snake 3 squares from the finishing square x
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# constructive suggestions.. Remove JSA sanctions for over 60s men and women. Early draw of State Pension, reduced amount, (benefits can too up) Means Tested State Pensions. Campaign for prevention of Age Discrimination perhaps guarantee interviews for vacancies applied for by JSA claimants
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I am getting sick to the back teeth of this view some people have of us. I don't agree that woman should be able to retire at 60 while men have to wait till they're 65, my problem is with the way it was dumped on us without so much as a bye your leave. I don't swan around all day in a housecoat waiting for Zumba class to start or take expensive holidays or drive a swish car. My husband worked a hard manual job in all weathers for 30 yrs and still works now, we haven't got a brilliant private pension to top us up . I started work when I was 15 but have gaps in my stamps due to bringing up children, like most working class . Unfortunately I can no longer work for medical reasons so it falls on my husband to now facing working beyond his retirement age to make up the shortfall. Oh and we won't all retire at 65, for me and many other it will be 66 plus. Surely this could have been dealt with in a better way?. Phased in rather than moving the goalposts not once but twice for the same group
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#18 The plight of those unable to work for medical reasons should be prioritised by campaigners. I am baffled as to why this isn't happening.
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It seems we are missing the whole issue..... if you pay into a scheme, whether government or private, you enter into a contract. That contract would and should be legally binding for all parties. Our government has reneged on this commitment for women of the 1950's, without due diligence to our welfare, but also with inadequate notification, often none. So we rally against this injustice, thank heavens we have the pro active waspi founders to help us, whatever their personal circumstances, a majority proportion of 1950's women are not affluent, struggling along in dire circumstances, often tragic. Where would we be today had it not been for Emmeline Pankhurst and her suffragettes? ??? I guess her position in society helped propel the cause, ultimately their subscriptions were double that given to the early labour movement. Equalisation of retirement age is correct and fair, however the penalty for resolving this, should not be borne by those of us whoon the cusp of ours...
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#19 There is no legal contract in place at all. The State Pension is defined in law as a "benefit", and the state has considerable scope to change the type and amount of benefits without impacting on an individual's property rights. 1960s women have had a steeper rise than those born in the 1950s, so it is curious to single out 1950s women as the ones most affected.
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#19 You have NO contract, in the legal sense, with Government for State Benefits. Your analogy with Pankhurst is inappropriate and offensive. She would have advocated that you fend for yourself and not rely on others to give you State handouts
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National Insurance is for unemployment, sickness, pension. Its not a pension fund. Yes women expected to get a State Pension at 60, yes information re increase in age eligible was scant but the State Pension is not a pension 'scheme' The fact it has affected 1950s women who have born the brunt, is probably wrong and other ways should be found to ease those in dire straights, into retirement. Wasp have highlighted pensions and hopefully those who follow this generation are preparing.
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The point has to be made, this is not given to us, we worked for it and paid for it. Tell me how it's fair to change the goal posts. After all the money was found to bail out the bankers and to give big corporations tax breaks. Oh and while we're at it, how about the 11% pay rise given to politicians.
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The point has to be made, this is not given to us, we worked for it and paid for it. Tell me how it's fair to change the goal posts. After all the money was found to bail out the bankers and to give big corporations tax breaks. Oh and while we're at it, how about the 11% pay rise given to politicians.
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#22 You fail to understand that the State Pension is just a benefit. It's paid on terms decided by Government. Those terms do and have changed over time. Any comparison with other Government spending is futile. Governments (of all parties) have difficult decisions to make about spending. Labour didn't reverse or change the SPA changes when in power, from 1997. MPs pay is not decided by MPs. There's a separate, independent body for that. Google IPSA
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I wonder if it would help detractors to consider how they would feel if they had paid insurance contributions to protect their house contents and buildings, on the understanding that they were paying enough to cover 'new for old', and 'loss outside of the home'; but then found that when they needed to claim they were told that these levels of cover were now too expensive to honour and they would have to make do with a much more basic cover than they had paid into? Sorry - you lost your wedding ring, or you thought you could claim for a new TV; but we can't help you now, as our T&C have changed. I am 57. I have paid tax and NI since I was 16, and been a higher rate taxpayer since the age of 40. I was told, so believed, that I would get a work pension at aged 60, at the same time as my State pension would kick in, and budgeted accordingly. I don't understand why feeling short changed is offensive to anyone. All women like me are asking for is what we were told to expect.
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#23 So you blindly assumed that your State Pension would start at 60 - you didn't think to check? you didn't hear that it would be any different? I assume that as a higher rate tax payer from the age of 40 you have a reasonably good occupational pension scheme - do you believe it is right for the country to subsidise your EARLY state pension whilst a Man on JSA waits a further 6 years? the idea is preposterous - I agree with helping WASPI Women who need help and am starting to lean towards a Universal Basic Income for everyone irrespective of gender - but then that wouldn't suit many WASPIs.
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#23 Please bear in mind that the vast majority of the "detractors" (whatever that means) have suffered rises to their state pension age, many of which are greater than those suffered by some women born in the 1950s.
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This is just nonsense. Women who assumed what they'd get and when, but didn't bother to check? Stephen Crabb is right. Too many people (men and women) don't bother to think about their pension or how they will manage once they can't work. Choosing not to work is different and depends on whether you have the means to support that. I very much doubt that the State Pension, alone, supports a "I don't need to work" lifestyle
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So. 1950s women are unique? The rest of us can just whistle?
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The fair solution for #WASPI is quite simple - provide some support for 50s born Women (& Men) who need it, do not provide it for people who do not. Why can't some of the #GRASPIs accept this solution?
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For those who would like to have their say on the 'Way Forward' for WASPI and other campaign groups there is a current Poll being run: http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=57532e58e4b073540521b745
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I learned recently that MP's, when debating their own pension arrangements decided that no changes should be made within 10 years of retirement. The last change to my pension was made in 2011 when I was 56. I was due my state pension at 63 at this point. If this ruling is good enough for them then it's good enough for me.
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It is typical that most making adverse comments about WASPI are not in the same position as the women of the 50s. WASPI are not against the equalisation of retirement ages, they fully understand the reasons why retirement ages have to go up. The campaign is about the transitional periods. The 1995 changes were not notified to women by the government. Then the 2011 act hit the same women for a second time. As an example a woman born at the end of 1953 had their retirement age put up to 63 and 3 months in 1995 then up to 65 and 3 months in 2012. Someone born at the beginning of the same year has already received their pension born towards the end of the same year has to wait a further three and a half years. The introduction was shambolic, unless you were politically engaged you did not hear about the rises until 2013 with hardly any time to make arrangements. Even David Cameron when he announced the changes during the coalition government said that transitional arrangements would have t
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It is typical that most making adverse comments about WASPI are not in the same position as the women of the 50s. WASPI are not against the equalisation of retirement ages, they fully understand the reasons why retirement ages have to go up. The campaign is about the transitional periods. The 1995 changes were not notified to women by the government. Then the 2011 act hit the same women for a second time. As an example a woman born at the end of 1953 had their retirement age put up to 63 and 3 months in 1995 then up to 65 and 3 months in 2012. Someone born at the beginning of the same year has already received their pension born towards the end of the same year has to wait a further three and a half years. The introduction was shambolic, unless you were politically engaged you did not hear about the rises until 2013 with hardly any time to make arrangements. Even David Cameron when he announced the changes during the coalition government said that transitional arrangements would have t
Inappropriate
It is typical that most making adverse comments about WASPI are not in the same position as the women of the 50s. WASPI are not against the equalisation of retirement ages, they fully understand the reasons why retirement ages have to go up. The campaign is about the transitional periods. The 1995 changes were not notified to women by the government. Then the 2011 act hit the same women for a second time. As an example a woman born at the end of 1953 had their retirement age put up to 63 and 3 months in 1995 then up to 65 and 3 months in 2012. Someone born at the beginning of the same year has already received their pension born towards the end of the same year has to wait a further three and a half years. The introduction was shambolic, unless you were politically engaged you did not hear about the rises until 2013 with hardly any time to make arrangements. Even David Cameron when he announced the changes during the coalition government said that transitional arrangements would have t
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