Isle of Wight Women Against State Pension Injustice (IWWASPI) claim the Island is the “epicentre” of the State Pension increase crisis among women nationally.
IWWASPI held a rally in St James’s Square, Newport on Saturday (July 14) from 12pm to 2pm to help spread the word about “knock-on effects” of the State Pension age changes to Island women and the nation as a whole.
The State Pension changes affect all women born in the 1950s and campaigners are seeking “fair transitional arrangements” for all, meaning changes made in smaller steps.
IWWASPI claim 10,000 women are affected on the Island alone, that’s around 7% of the Island’s population, compared with 5.8% or 3.5m women affected nationally.
Many women received little or no notification of the changes and some women could be forced to wait up to six years to draw a pension.
One of the campaigners at the rally was Di Holland, an admin worker from Ventnor who explained the possible “knock-on effects”.
The 61-year-old said: “It’s evident talking to people here today that people think this is primarily about a bunch of aggrieved women who feel that they’ve been robbed of their pension.
“But the wider context is that in reality, yes it’s true that younger people will have to wait longer for their pensions.
“However, I am having to stay in a job that should rightfully now be handed over to a younger person – maybe a breadwinner.
“On top of that, people in my situation are forced to stay in work and they can’t look after their elderly parents and the Isle of Wight Council and elderly care services will have to take up the slack where that’s concerned.
“I would say to the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions], that there is no way that WASPI intend to give up on this campaign. And that really, they should realise and admit that they have made a mistake now, and bring it back to acceptable levels and stop the damage before it goes any further.
“There are women who have been dropped into an enormous black hole and have no visible means of support whatsoever.”
Beverley Faulds-Barber, 62, a hypnotherapist from Shanklin, said: “Some women actually had their divorce settlements worked out on the fact that they would get their pension at 60 so that has made a mockery of that.
“Some women are living in huge poverty, some women are having to sell their houses, they’re having to stay in jobs that are not beneficial to their health. We have also got the knock-on effect that the longer that you work the more ill-health you are likely to suffer which will have an effect on our NHS which is already failing here on the Island. So it is not just one thing really, it’s across the board isn’t it?
“It doesn’t bode well for a future, for a younger generation, because they’ll just keep thinking that that’s what they can do. So we’ve got youngsters in their 20s and 30s who might not ever be looking at a State Pension.”
Mrs Holland added: “It’s not [just] the individuals, it’s the effect on their husbands, their partners, their families, as a whole, those women who are looking after grandchildren to allow the parents to stay in work. This is the epicentre.”
The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide advice for anyone affected by pension changes.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have thoroughly reviewed the options for equalising the State Pension age, and having listened to women’s concerns, made a £1.1 billion concession in the 2011 Pensions Act, capping the increase in the State Pension age at 18 months relative to the 1995 Act timetable.
“As we are all living considerably longer than when pensions were introduced, we need to adjust the pension age to ensure the sustainability of the state pension now and for future generations.”
If you’d like to get involved with WASPI or find out more about the campaign by emailing Yvonne Yelland at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website here.
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