Women from across the Glenrothes area, set to lose out because of pension reforms, have had their plight taken up by the region’s MP.
Peter Grant, Glenrothes and Central Fife MP, met with several members of the Women Against State Pension Equality (WASPI) campaign group this week and on Tuesday handed in a petition at Westminster urging the UK Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born in the 1950s who have been unfairly affected by rapid rises to the state pension age.
Glenrothes women along with fellow campaigners across the country have been gathering signatures and asked MPs to submit the petition in person in the House of Commons, as part of an nationwide bid to force the UK Government to rethink the changes.
Following his meeting with constituents, Mr Grant told the Gazette: “I agree with pension equalisation but we cannot support the deeply unfair manner in which the changes were made, first in 1995 and then exacerbated in 2011.
“I’ve been shocked to hear from my constituents who are directly affected about the impact it has had on their retirement plans.
“It’s completely unacceptable that many thousands of women will actually lose out financially as a result of changes that were deigned to make pensions more equal.”
The campaigning against pension inequality was started by five women who got together in 2015 and decided to fight, what they refer to as the government’s “injustice”.
The group’s number one aim is for the Government to introduce a transitional agreement to help those women born after April 6, 1951 to receive a ‘bridging’ pension to cover the gap from age 60 until state pension age, not means tested, and with compensation for losses for those women who have already reached their state pension age.
The campaign received nearly 140,000 signatures of support in the first six months.
They agree with the principle, outlined in the 1995 Pension s Act, to increase women’s SPA (state pension age) to 65, the same as men’s, however, disagreed with the way the changes were implemented, claiming them to be “unfair”.
Campaigners add that the 2011 legislation was introduced faster than promised thus leaving many no time to make alternative arrangements for provision.
“Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences,” said a WASPI spokesman.
Mr Grant said the ladies pensions were “a contract, not a benefit”, and has uged his Westminster colleagues to think again.
“We must have transitional arrangements for these 1950s-born women who have worked hard all their lives and have contributed to the UK economy.
“I and my SNP colleagues have repeatedly called for action from the Tory Government to no avail.
“We hope this petition and the groundswell of public support for these women will finally see the transitional arrangements they deserve being put in place ”