Fife women rally to call for pension justice

WASPI rally in Kirkcaldy
WASPI rally in Kirkcaldy

Over 200 women born in the ‘50s gathered in Kirkcaldy on Saturday at a Fife-wide WASPI event rallying against state pension injustice.

The event at St Bryce Kirk was organised by Lesley Laird MP and featured speakers from WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality), trade union UNISON and CARF (Citizens Advice Rights Fife).

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State pension changes, which suddenly raised the age of eligibility for female claimants from 60 to 65/66 years of age, have impacted 3.8m ‘50s-born women across the UK.

The audience heard 1500 women from this age group die in Scotland every year before being able claiming their pension.

Linda Carmichael, Aberdeen WASPI campaigner, said: “We always hear the old chestnut ‘people are living longer’ but the real impact here is quality of life.

“George Osborne said it was the easiest [pension] saving he had ever made. What he meant by that was the women of our generation would not object. How wrong he was.

“Nevertheless, too many people still don’t realise that the pension age has actually changed.”

State pension age changes are estimated to affect around 5,500 women in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency yet CARF dealt with only four pension- related queries over the past year, far fewer than consumer-related queries.

Audrey Cunningham from CARF warned that, from May 15, further changes were coming. From this date, breaking an existing claim for pension credit could also adversely impact mixed aged couples and advised people to come forward for advice before doing so.

Currently there is only one WASPI group in West Fife and attendees were encouraged to develop further groups across the region.

Speaking afterwards, Lesley Laird said: “When I first publicised the event many constituents got in touch to say they wanted to go and we heard many stories of hardship, some of them absolutely heart-breaking.

“Women have worked all their lives, raised children, cared for parents, only to find themselves in some cases having to take extreme measures, such as selling their house, to make ends meet.

“And yet, despite so many women being penalised here, the WASPI campaign has been under the radar for too long in Fife.

“A judicial review decision is due out in June which may provide a breakthrough for all cases, but a favourable result is not a given and that’s why we held this event: to bring women together, provide a support network and kickstart new groups across Fife.

Lesley Laird’s office is also offering help to ‘50s-born women in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency who would like help to process a complaint with the Department of Work and Pensions.

“Woman across the kingdom need to rally now, get all their complaints in to the DWP, flex their political muscle and pressurise the government to introduce transitional help,” she added.

Contact lesley.laird.mp@parliament.uk or phone 01592 724129.

To contact CARF phone 0345 140 0095.