Campaigners fighting pension age discrimination say the Government is treating 3.8 million women unfairly as they are being forced to wait up to six years longer than planned for their state pension. The activists launched a fresh legal challenge to appeal the decision this month after an unsuccessful High Court battle. But a number of 50s women have spoken to Express.co.uk on condition of anonymity to voice concern about the appeal, arguing instead for “targeted help where it is needed for both men and women caught out by these changes” so “successful younger workers” do not have to “foot the bill”.
Opponents of Backto60, the group behind the action, say they have faced abuse online because of their views and argue they were in fact given ample warning of the state pension age changes.
One critic of the campaign advocating for a “more realistic solution” told Express.co.uk: “Many of us are just concerned that Backto60 are misleading people about their chances of success legally. There are plenty of us out there that would wish to see a more realistic solution to help those in dire straits and not punish the younger generations.”
The retirement age for women rose to 65 to bring it into line with men and will go up to 66 by 2020, and 67 by 2028.
Backto60 campaigners say the proposed age changes are unfair because some four million women were not given adequate time to make arrangements to cope for years without a pension, with vast numbers missing out on as much as £47,000.
The activists took their grievances to the High Court in London on October 3 where their case was dismissed on the grounds the “legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law”.
State pension latest news: campaigners outside the High Court in London
State pension latest news: Backto60’s Joanne Welch speaks to media outside the High Court in London
After the unsuccessful battle, a crowdfunded effort to seek permission to appeal the High Court ruling saw tens of thousands of pounds raised in just 24 hours.
Speaking to Express.co.uk on the day the appeal was launched, Backto60 founder Joanne Welch insisted her commitment to appeal was “rock solid”.
She told Express.co.uk: “We are under siege – but we are strident and confident in the latest advice we have received. Calls from women born in the 1950s to challenge the decision of the High Court resonate with the advice from our legal team to appeal. Our crowdfunder to appeal the decision from the High Court facilitates both.”
Backto60’s critics argue the crowdfunder is unhelpful, as it gives false hope to women in need. But others insist “all groups” are justified in “trying different routes up the same mountain”.
One woman, 65, who opposes Backto60’s latest legal challenge said: “Backto60 say they speak for all 50s women (as do WASPI and ‘we paid in you payout’) but that is clearly not true. I was born in May 1954 and will get my state pension in January 2020 at age 65 and eight months.
State pension latest news: some 50s women are angry at the proposed changes
State pension latest news: a campaigner outside the High Court in London
“These groups do not speak for me as I believe in equality and I understand how the National Insurance system works so know that any compensation given to 50s women will have to be paid for by the next generation – a generation already facing a much longer wait for their pension than 50s women.”
A 66-year-old woman affected by the age changes said: “The vast majority of women born in the 1950s, like me born 1953, were well aware of the changes to state pension age. It happened in 1995, was talked about before and after, and despite what the campaigners say, the Department for Work and Pensions did publicise the changes.
“In my view, the only thing unfair about the changes to state pension age was the 2011 Act. There is an argument that those women worst affected should be compensated. That’s it.”
Another critic said: “Campaign groups such Backto60 and WASPI are demanding compensation for all and exclusively women born in the 1950s regardless of the financial situations of these women.
“They have disregarded men born in the 1950s and future generations who will suffer through increased National Insurance contributions in the unlikely event of compensation being awarded.”
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But it is not just 50s women who have reservations about the campaign. Men have also raised concerns.
One man told Express.co.uk: “There are some born in the 50s who are suffering due to the pension age rises. But these people are both men and women, you see men have also lost out on pension credit that at one time they could receive from age 60.”
Others argue despite the core message of 50s women becoming “diluted” by the over-saturation of campaigns, all groups have a justified cause.
Sue Anspach contended the cohort of women “born 1953/54 were especially badly hit by the 2011 increases and should not be forgotten”.
She said: “All groups are justified in trying different routes up the same mountain.”
And Anne Campbell, 65, told Express.co.uk although she did believe Backto60 had “a just cause”, she had concerns the “overall message” was “getting diluted now”.
She said: “We are not moaning about equal ages for men and women just the way it was done. We definitely feel that Backto60 have a just cause, there are a lot of angry women out there.”
State pension latest news: distraught women outside the High Court in London after the ruling
Another woman said: “I am a 63-year-old retired teacher campaigning for my state pension as promised to me for most of my working life. To this end, I am extremely grateful for the work done by Backto60.”
Another proposal, “63 is the new 60”, was launched by Mariana Robinson to fight the planned age changes.
Ms Robinson told Express.co.uk: “The 63/60 proposal is fair, treats all 50s women the same (or earlier) than their 63rd birthday for the state pension. We think the Government should apply this solution and backdate to 63 for those who have passed that age.
“We have been robbed, we have been deceived and we have not been informed. That’s why this needs to be fixed.”
A supporter of Ms Robinson’s idea, Anne Humble, 65, said: “There isn’t enough being done to solve this problem. All Governments have kicked this problem down the line, waiting for us to die or get to the new pensionable age and shut up. I and millions of others will not stop fighting until our plight is recognised. I support a compromise of 63 is the new 60 promoted by the group led by Mariana Robinson.”
State pension age change campaigner outside High Court in London
Another advocate, Francesca Trownson, said: “I am a supporter of 1950s women. Of course, I will not say no if someone says I can have my backdated pension, but I am a realist and would be more than happy with the 63 is the new 60 compromise.”
The interventions into the state pension row come as Tory MP Tim Loughton called on women from the Backto60 campaign to drop their latest legal challenge so Parliament can settle the dispute “easily and quickly”.
Mr Loughton, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality, told the Daily Express the “most likely solution” is a “compromise.”
He said: “There is no doubt this is an injustice. These women have paid into a pot.
“My main concern is around women who are now not getting their pension and are not in a position to work, who have caring responsibilities or long-term conditions, and yet are being told you can go and stack shelves or work behind a bar at a nightclub.
“It’s really inappropriate and a kick in the teeth for those who have worked hard all their lives. There could be an equitable solution quite easily and quickly if we get all the legal action out of the way.”
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Overturning the controversial age change decision would cost £181billion. MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality argue a more realistic solution would be to let those affected claim Job Seekers Allowance on top of pension credit, at a cost of roughly £2billion.
But Backto60 campaigners are confident 50s women are now behind “full restitution”.
Campaigner Deena Wild told Express.co.uk: “It’s my intention to fight until I absolutely have no breath left in my body.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Due to an appeal from complainants this is live litigation and as such we cannot comment.”